A pasta dinner for when a pasta dinner is appropriate, because dinner, to me, is all about setting the mood. My day usually includes a few hours of testing out recipes, researching, planning upcoming workshops and writing blog posts. Which means by the time dinner rolls around, I could potentially be all cooked out. But, I quite look forward to cooking dinner. The kitchen is empty by then and I always prefer to buy fresh vegetables, which means I can walk down my favorite lane and gawk at everything. After that, I come home and its just me and my kitchen and my iPad. Of course all of the peace lasts for exactly 17 minutes before the family barges in with pre-dinner hunger pangs or eat boiled pasta or just have a sniff of whatever is on the stove, egging me on to hurry up. Most days, of course, I can’t plan elaborate meals because there’s hardly any time to get everything done and frankly, I’m a lazy cook. Don’t get me wrong – I love elaborate meals but I love them because I reserve them for special days. I look forward to them because they are significant – marking an occasion or celebrating a happy day. They aren’t an everyday affair, you know? Anyway, I’m just as excited about the simplicity of a sandwich as I am about coq au vin. It all depends on the day’s work and mood. Pasta dinner usually falls about mid-week – when we have exhausted the sandwich permutation and combinations.
This pasta dinner is simple, indulgent and all in all, breezy. Canned, tart tomatoes that I’m unapologetic about, some onion-garlic and smoked sausage along with pasta and a ton of cheese is perfectly acceptable mid-week dinner. The smoked sausage here, though is the real, invincible star of the show. It is also very gracious about playing around with whatever sausage you like – I plan to try this with some pepperoni soon. Here, I used smoked chicken sausages to compensate for the horrendous amount of cheese but you can use any sausage-cheese combo. Be bold – it’s your dinner and I don’t think your fitness trainer is looking.
Spicy Sausage Bake
Serves: 5 – 6
Adapted from: kevinandamanda.com
1/2 can (200 ml) canned tomatoes
1 really good chicken stock cube
1/2 cup water
1 tbs olive oil
5 – 6 smoked chicken sausages, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, diced
3 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 – 2 tsp paprika flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin powder
8 oz pasta, cooked al dente and drained
1/2 cup fresh cream
1 packet (150 g) Go Natural Cheese Italian Pasta mix (If that isn’t available, use whatever cheese you like with Pasta, original recipe states Monterey Jack)*
Salt and pepper, to taste* This is not a sponsored post, I’m just excited to share my discoveries with you!*
1. In a non-stick skillet, add olive oil and wait till sputters. Add diced onion and chicken sausage chunks and stir to combine. Add minced garlic, paprika flakes and dried oregano. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add water and a stock cube and let it come to a boil.
2. Add tomatoes and the chicken stock. Stir to combine and add salt, pepper and cumin powder. Turn the flame on low and let it simmer for about 10 – 12 minutes till it has reduced slightly. Add cream. Refresh pasta by running it under tap water for a second. Drain and dump the pasta into the skillet. Stir around for the sauce to coat the pasta well. Turn off the flame and pour half the pasta into a oven-proof dish. Coat with half the cheese and repeat for remaining pasta. Set aside.
3. A little before serving, pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C. Once the oven is sufficiently hot, bake the pasta for 10 – 12 minutes till the cheese bubbles and serve hot!