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Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Can I have one more plate?"





Penne with sausage and roasted red peppers

Though my mother had tasted pasta while growing up in Taiwan, she was in for a surprise when we visited an Italian restaurant in the U.S. for the first time: the flavors were very different than she expected. The place had a rustic feel, and many of the dishes had a strong aroma of herbs. Only then did she realize this was what true Italian food was like.

That was what got her interested in Italian cuisine. She's planted many types of herbs and would pluck ingredients from the garden whenever she wanted to make an Italian dish. For example, Mom may occasionally add a tablespoon of chopped rosemary to her pastas.

I was initially under the impression that pastas were difficult to make. While today's dish is the result of many years of experience, this version has been greatly simplified. However, the taste and style haven't changed. Due to its texture and presentation, as well as the excellent aroma and nutrition, our dish is extremely popular at gatherings.

Ingredients

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ lb Italian sausage
  • 1 can (28 oz) skinless plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ½ lb penne

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Cook penne according to package directions and drain.
  3. Place red peppers into oven; roast for 20 minutes or until skin wrinkles. Keep in oven for another 10 minutes.
  4. Remove skin, stem and seeds from peppers. Cut peppers into small pieces.
  5. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in large saucepan. Add onions and sauté over medium heat until tender.
  6. Add sausage, breaking it up with spoon until almost cooked.
  7. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes; add roasted peppers and mix well.
  8. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste; cook for 10 more minutes.
  9. Combine pasta with sausage mixture.

Tips

  1. If you want to try other herbs like rosemary or basil, then go for it.
  2. You can also add other peppers besides the red ones. However, avoid green peppers as their taste is too strong and doesn't mix well with this recipe.
  3. As shown in the second image, you can add grated Parmesan cheese to improve the taste.
  4. Plum tomato is very sweet and goes well with peppers. You may use diced tomato instead, in which case you can also add basil.

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