Cooking On A Budget: Penne Pasta with Sausage and Pink Sauce

Friday, December 16, 2011

Penne Pasta with Sausage and Pink Sauce

The inspiration for this dish came from a recipe that someone created many years ago which was called Penne a la Vodka Sauce.  I added in other ingredients to make it my own dish - Penne Pasta with Sausage and Pink Sauce. Personally I love the flavor and colors of the sweeter bells peppers (red, orange and yellow); however, use any bell pepper you like.  This dish is incredibly flavorful and one your family will love. It's economical and a budget stretching meal.  It will serve 4-6 people.

You will need a large deep skillet, a dutch oven or other deep pot to create this tasty dish.

The parsley, basil and Parmesan cheese are ingredients that you can add - they are options - so go with your personal taste buds!  Also, depending on how spicy you like your foods, you can use hot Italian sausage in place of the sweet and add more red pepper flakes.

1/2 lb. penne pasta
Olive Oil (you can substitute any oil you have on hand)
3 - 4 sweet Italian sausage links - sliced into bite sized pieces* (use hot sausage if you like more heat)
1 small yellow bell pepper - seeded and large rough chop
1 small orange bell pepper (or red) - seeded and large rough chop
1/3 cup onion - finely diced
3 cloves fresh garlic - finely minced or 1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1- 8 oz. can of whole tomatoes
Vodka - about 1/4 cup
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh or dried parsley - optional
Fresh or dried basil - optional
Grated Parmesan Cheese - optional

Cook the pasta according to the manufactures directions on the box. El dente is preferred for this dish. Set aside.

*Put your sausage links in the freezer for about 15 - 20 minutes as they are much easier to slice.  Slice into bite sized pieces.  In a large, deep skillet pan, drizzle the bottom with the olive oil.  Saute the slices of sausage to a golden brown (about 3/4 done) and remove to a bowl or plate.

In the same pan you sauteed the sausage add in the diced onion and peppers. Saute these until they begin to soften, then add in the minced garlic.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the vodka and allow the vodka to reduce and cook down - about 4-5 minutes.

Next, add in the canned tomatoes juice and all.  Break the tomatoes down with a spoon or by hand as you are adding them to the pan.  Put the sausage back in the pan and add the red pepper flakes. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the flavors meld and the sausage is fully cooked.  Finally add in the cream and stir to incorporate.  If your skillet is large enough add in the cooked pasta, stir and simmer until the pasta is heated through.

At the very end if you elect, add in some fresh chopped parsley or fresh basil or grated Parmesan cheese.  If you are using dried spices add them in when you add in the red pepper flakes.

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