I can’t help but love pasta. I come from an Italian family, with Italian grandmothers, and an English mother who has forsaken her own culinary tradition (can’t really blame her for moving away from English food, right?) and has joined the cult of the Italian. I grew up on Italian food, and am delighted to roll out another Italian recipe today – and from the most authentic Italian establishment around, Carrabba’s.
Okay, so maybe it’s not authentic, but this pasta is darn good. They don’t serve it there anymore, but there was a time, several years ago, when this was the dish to get. I’ve never seen anything like it in any restaurant in Italy, and I’ve been to a bunch. Oh well. The concept is simple – pasta with Italian sausage (non-meat sausage in this case) and goat cheese. The execution is just as simple. This is a great weeknight dinner, quick and easy.
Again, if I had a better name for this, I’d use it. I can’t remember what it was called at Carrabba’s, and frankly, I haven’t needed a name for it until right now. I thought about calling it “Pig Goat Pasta,” but couldn’t make my vegetarian fingers type that into the “title” field.
My recipe does use faux-meat. I like the Gimme Lean brand sausage – veg friendly, cholesterol-free, but with a solid sausage flavor. If you’re not into the fake meat scene, sauteing some meaty mushrooms might work well with the rest of this meal. Heck, even with the sausage, some mushrooms would be a tasty addition.
And perhaps now is a good time to point out the obvious – pretty much everything I’ll make, in some form or another, will incorporate garlic and onions. My excuse? I rarely come across anything that tastes worse after adding in the dynamic duo. When it comes to G & O, as I
never call them, it’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “how much?”
What you need:
- 1 box of penne or rigatoni pasta
- 1/2-3/4 lb of ground vegan sausage (in most big grocery stores, it’s in the produce section)
- 1/2 medium sweet onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 jar of roasted red peppers (optional)
- 1/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese (or 1 moderately-heaping tablespoon per serving)
- Your favorite non-cheesy spaghetti sauce (I’d recommend Granny Zeller’s)
- Parsley for sprinkling
- One pot
- One pan
What to do:
Step 1) Roughly chop the onions and red peppers, and mince the garlic (4 cloves of garlic should do the trick, but really, garlic is like money – you can never have too much)
Step 2) Begin boiling the pasta according to the packing directions. Salt the water, because vegan sausage carries a lot less salt than regular sausage.
Step 3) Add the onions and garlic to a lightly oiled pan. After a few minutes, add the ground sausage. Break the sausage up with your hands or break it with a spoon once in the pan. Either way, you’re shooting for small clumps of sausage.
Step 4) When the sausage is browned and the onions are translucent, add your sauce to the pan and stir in the sausage, onions, and garlic. Turn the heat really low so the sauce doesn’t boil and splatter (you’re just trying to heat it, not cook it).
Step 5) When the pasta is cooked, strain and plate. Top with the sausage-y sauce, sprinkle with parsley and (the best part) goat cheese! Goat cheese is deliciously creamy but really rich – a little goes a long, long way.
Step 6) Pour a nice glass of red wine, or grab an ice-cold beer, and dig in.
If you’re bummed by an American-Italian-restaurant-knockoff recipe and want something from the kitchen of a genuine Sicilian, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve. In due time, I’ll unveil, for the first time ever on the internet, my great-grandmother’s corn fritter recipe. It’ll blow your socks off. But not today…