Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The 21st Century Housewife's© Sausage and Balsamic Roast Shallot Pasta

This is a great recipe for this time of year because it is quick and easy, yet tastes like it took a lot of time and effort. It is also easy on your purse or pocketbook! The shallots and spice give it an excellent flavour and the brussel sprouts add a lovely Christmassy touch. Please don’t go all funny on me about these – properly cooked they are gorgeous. (Overcooked, soggy and wilted they are awful!!) Having said that, if you really hate them, please feel free to leave them out. We love them in our house! In fact, I think I may be the only Mom who can say that when my son was little he used to stand in the vegetable aisle in the grocery store and say, “Please buy me some brussel sprouts mummy, I haven’t had them in ages!” Honestly, he did! People used to look at us, amazed – hearing a child ask for any vegetable is pretty incredible - hearing them ask for brussel sprouts is nigh on miraculous!

Anyway, if you are using fresh chillies, be sure to wear gloves or wash your hands very thoroughly after chopping them – and keep your fingers well away from your eyes until you have washed your hands. Believe me, chilli can burn. I have found ready-chopped chillies preserved in jars here in England and I must admit I use them quite a lot. The ones I buy are from the English Provender Company and are quite appropriately called ‘Very Lazy Chillies’. They do ‘Very Lazy Garlic’ as well (which you could also use in this recipe). I am sure there must be something similar if you live in North America and if you can find it, do please feel free to use it in this recipe! Anything to save a bit of time and effort at this busy time of year!! (NB. I use about half a teaspoon of the chillies when I make this, and about a teaspoon of the garlic.)

Passata is cooked, sieved tomato and is sold in jars or those cardboardy tetra-pac containers. If you can’t find it, feel free to use a tin of tomatoes instead. If your family is like mine and doesn’t like chunks of tomato in their food, just whiz the tomatoes in the food processor or blender before using.

This is a pasta meal that is definitely good enough to serve to guests, but it also makes a super family meal. The quantities listed below serve two to three hungry adults, but the recipe is easily doubled.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
about 10 shallots, peeled and quartered
6 good quality pork sausages, chopped in three to four pieces each
2 garlic cloves
half a small red chilli (ribs and seeds removed), chopped OR
a pinch of dried red pepper flakes
½ cup white wine
1-1/2 cups passata (cooked, sieved tomatoes)
1 generous teaspoon white sugar
1 chicken stock cube
a good handful of brussel sprouts, washed, peeled and finely sliced
9 to 10 ounces (250 – 300 grams) whole wheat pasta

Pre-heat the oven to very hot (400℉ or 200℃). Put the shallots in a roasting dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Here is how mine looked before they went into the oven:-

Roast the shallots in the oven for about twenty minutes, stirring once, until softened and golden, like this:-

Meanwhile, heat the other tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan (with a lid) on the stove top. When it gets to medium heat, add the pieces of sausage and fry gently, stirring as little as possible so they don’t fall to pieces. When they are starting to brown, grate in the garlic using a fine grater. (You can chop it finely if you prefer. I saw Rachael Ray grating garlic into a recipe on television one day, thought it was a fantastic idea, and have never looked back!) Add the white wine, passata, chillies or red pepper flakes and the white sugar. Crumble the chicken stock cube over the top and then stir everything gently together. Pop the lid on the pan and simmer over low heat for about fifteen to twenty minutes or until the sausages are cooked through.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.

Once the sausages are done, toss the sliced Brussel sprouts and roasted shallots into the sauce and stir gently to mix. Pop the lid back on and cook for about three to five minutes over low heat just to let the sprouts soften.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir gently to mix. Serve and enjoy.

PS - This is really, really delicious with a nice glass of full bodied red wine, like a merlot or cabernet sauvignon - or a glass of red grape juice!