Penne with Sausage and Tomato Sauce

We had this for lunch yesterday. It was very easy, relatively quick, and pretty darn tasty. Italian sausage is simmered with crushed tomatoes with basil, onion, and a bit of butter. Then tossed with whole wheat penne. Good stuff.

One thing about tomato sauces. I used to be a super herby kind of girl. I tossed herbs of every kind into my tomato sauces. Of course everything do not always taste good together. That saying something along the lines of “if you use a lot of good tasting ingredients, you can’t end up with something other than good tasting food,” unfortunately, isn’t always true.

Since then I’ve abandoned the herbs approach when it comes to tomato sauces. I became more of a purist. I tried the three-ingredient tomato sauce from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking. I became a believer. That simple sauce is unbelievably good for something that takes next to zero effort to put together. Heck, my kitchen un-savvy boyfriend can make it. All it takes is butter, onion, and tomatoes! You don’t even need to chop the onion! Seriously, if you’ve never tried it, you simply have to.

One 28 oz can tomatoes.

Half a stick of unsalted butter.

Half an onion.

Don’t chop anything. Don’t brown anything. Toss everything in a large sauce pan. Simmer for about half an hour, or until the tomatoes break down and your kitchen smells heavenly. I eat the sauce with spoon. And the onion with my fingers.

This recipe is inspired from that. With a couple of changes.

Penne with Sausage and Tomato Sauce
serves about 4 for lunch

1/2 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes with basil (don’t worry about the basil part, use plain crushed tomatoes if you like)
2 Italian sausages (I used sweet, but use hot if you like the heat)
1 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
1/4 medium onion
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. whole wheat penne, cooked al dente

Remove the sausages from their casings. Heat a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Brown the sausage, breaking them up into small pieces. Do this until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the pan. Add the onion, unchopped, the butter, and the half can of tomatoes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for half an hour. Stir and check every 10 minutes or so.

Toss the pasta into the sauces, season to taste. Serve with a tossed salad and some good bread.

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