Thursday, 7 April 2011

Balsamic Roast Shallot and Sausage Pasta - with a Veggie Variation

This is a family favourite - it is quick and easy, yet tastes like it took a lot of time and effort.  It is also easy on your budget. The shallots give it an excellent flavour and the brussel sprouts hide amongst the sauce, packing a great nutritional punch and adding a wonderful flavour. Honestly, properly cooked brussel sprouts 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, and 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!” People used to look at us, amazed – hearing a child ask for any vegetable can be pretty unusual, and hearing them ask for brussel sprouts is nigh on miraculous!

And of course, vegetarians can use veggie sausages or replace the sausage with tofu or mushrooms. In my experience, mushrooms work particularly well.

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. Fresh chillies are wonderful, but if you are having trouble finding them, you can of course use dried red pepper flakes. By the way, did you know that you can freeze fresh chillies? I wash, dry, de-seed and slice or chop them up first, open freeze them on shallow trays and then store in sealed containers in the freezer for up to three months. You can use them straight from frozen. 

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 or two of dried red pepper flakes (of course you can add more if you like things really spicy!)
½ cup white wine or chicken stock
1½ cups passata (cooked, sieved tomatoes) or tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
a good handful of brussel sprouts, washed, peeled and finely sliced
9 to 10 ounces (250 – 300 grams) whole wheat pasta
salt and pepper to taste
dried parsley or freshly chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish

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.  Roast the shallots in the oven for about twenty minutes, stirring once, until softened and golden.  Set aside.

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. Add the white wine, passata, chillies or red pepper flakes, oregano and the bay leaf. 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, remove the bay leaf and 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 a bit.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir gently to mix.  Taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve garnished with parsley.

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.


  1. Delicious!! Love everything in this dish!
    Brussels sprouts are one of my favorites if cooked the right way. I have a great way to make them - now if I could only find some in the stores I could post it. Seriously! I've been craving them and haven't been able to find any!

  2. Looks very yummy. These days we mostly go for vegetarian and this is a good recipe for us.

    Found your Blog from Alexe's blog and following you.


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