Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Can I have one more plate?"

Penne with sausage and roasted red peppers

Mom discovered a whole new world when we visited an Italian restaurant in the U.S. for the first time. The place had a rustic feel and was reminiscent of the countryside. Though my mother had tried pasta while growing up in Taiwan, she was surprised to find that it tasted very different than she expected. The dishes were flavorful and filled with the aroma of fresh herbs. Only then did she realize this was what true Italian food was like.

That was what sparked her interest in Italian cuisine. Having planted many herbs, Mom would pluck ingredients from the garden whenever she wanted to make an Italian dish. For example, she may add a tablespoon of chopped rosemary to her pastas.

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


  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ lb Italian sausage
  • 28 oz canned plum tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ lb penne pasta


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Cook penne according to package directions and drain.
  3. Place red peppers into oven and 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 olive oil in large saucepan. Add onions and sauté over medium heat until tender.
  6. Add sausage, breaking up with spoon until almost cooked.
  7. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  8. Add roasted peppers and mix well.
  9. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 10 more minutes.
  10. Combine pasta with sausage mixture.


  1. As the story suggests, you way want to add herbs, such as rosemary or basil.
  2. You can use 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, grated Parmesan cheese can be used to improve the taste.
  4. Plum tomato is very sweet and goes well with peppers. If you prefer, you may use diced tomatoes instead and optionally add basil.

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