Simple Italian Sausage Pasta

Simple isn’t always best, but sometimes it sure feels that way. Even when it comes to pasta…

Here is a recipe that I like to make when time is short, but I want to enjoy some excellent, satisfying flavors. A bit of simple elegance, you might say.

· 3 plus 1 tbsp butter
· 2 medium yellow onions – finely chopped
· 1 lb Italian sausage
· 3 – 4 cloves garlic – chopped
· ½ cup dry white wine
· 4 tbsp double-concentrated tomato paste
· 3 cups chicken stock
· ½ cup milk
· 1 lb pasta – penne, fusilli or farfalle (bowtie)
· ½ cup Parmesan-reggiano – plus extra to sprinkle on top
· Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the 3 tbsp butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn heat to med-high. Add the sausage and cook until browned – crumble with the edge of wooden spoon. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add white wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Mix the tomato paste with a portion of the stock in a cup and stir. Add this mixture along with the remaining stock and milk to the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce has reduced and thickened somewhat. Taste and season as needed.

Cook pasta per instructions and drain – reserve one cup of the pasta water. Add pasta to the sauce in the sauté pan along with the ½ cup of cheese and remaining tbsp butter. Stir to coat. If the pasta appears dry, add reserved pasta water as needed. Plate the pasta, top with the remaining cheese and serve.

OK folks, a quick note here. Something I can never stress enough - ingredients rule..! For this recipe with very few components, be sure the sausage, pasta, stock, tomato paste and cheese are up to par.

Feel free to improvise with this dish, but remember that the spirit here is in the simplicity. If you do feel a pressing need to kick it up a bit, the two items that come to mind: add ¼ tsp of red pepper flakes when sautéing the onion and /or add some chopped Italian parsley after the sauce has reduced.

Cook and enjoy…