Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WDW - Easy weeknight pasta dinner!

This is a busy week for us, as it is production week for the play Emma is in. There are long rehearsals every night, so I needed some quick and easy weeknight dinners to keep us away from Panda Express.

Speaking of Panda Express, I just want to pause and say how much I love their Orange Chicken. I still haven't figured out if there is actually any chicken in it, but I really don't care. It's so stinkin' good. Anyways, back to the pasta...

This is a great go-to recipe which is hardly even a recipe. I don't even actually have a name for it. All you need is a bag of pasta, a package of Italian sausage, some fresh broccoli, a little parmesan cheese, olive oil and half and half.

First thing I do is put on a big pot of water to boil.

While I'm waiting for the water to boil, I start with the sausage. I like Trader Joe's chicken Italian sausage. I prefer to take off the "skin" by just running a sharp knife down the long side of the sausage. Pull out the sausage meat and put it into a large saute pan (I use a stir fry pan) with a touch of olive oil and some fresh garlic if you like. If the sausage is mild, I like to throw in a few red pepper flakes as well. Turn the heat on medium, and saute until cooked, breaking up the sausage into bite-sized bits. Turn off the heat when it is done and just let it sit.

When the water boils, throw in about a half a package of pasta (about 1/2 lb.). I like radiatore, orriechetti, or rotini for this dish. Cook the pasta about 5 minutes, then throw in (to the boiling water with the pasta) approximately 2-3 cups small broccoli flowerettes. Cook about 5 minutes more, until the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is crisp-tender. Drain everything together, and dump it into the saucepan with the cooked sausage. Turn on the heat to medium, and toss everything together. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and at the last minute stir in a splash or two of half and half. Just a splash - we aren't making Alfredo here.

Serve immediately with parmesan cheese - this is a fast and easy one dish meal. I think it's a rather comforting dish, too. My family loves it.

Most people will want to double this recipe. The way I make it serves about 4. Enjoy!

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