Easy weeknight meal #2. This one was quicker than last week’s Mango Shrimp, and cheaper! If you choose to leave out the chicken sausage, then its an even more frugal (and also a vegetarian) dinner. Nothing in the preparation of this dish is time consuming. There is a little chopping and slicing to do, but nothing tedious…unless you consider slicing a couple garlic cloves to be tedious.
I don’t often make vegetarian dishes when I cook for Ben and myself. I am content with a dinner where mushrooms, black beans or artichokes are the “meat”. Tofu? Not yet, people. I fear tofu. Ben would prefer chicken, beef, turkey, etc. as a part of a balanced meal. So, I made this pasta dish with chicken sausage. Ben liked this addition, but I think it would have been better as a purely vegetarian pasta. I love my husband, and I like him to be happy…so I will make this again with the chicken sausage or maybe prosciutto. Ben can eat his meaty pasta, but I will set aside some pure, vegetable goodness for myself before adding the animal product. Marriage is all about compromise!
This meal came about by reading a Martha Stewart recipe for Penne alla Norma which sounded so good…until I reached the line that read…EGGPLANT…gasp…blech! I hate eggplant. If someone wants to convince me that it’s delicious, then fly me to your house and treat me to dinner featuring this outwardly beautifully purple vegtable with an slimy inner evil. If you can convince me that it’s edible…I will retract the last few remarks and worship you.
Anyway, I decided to replace the eggplant in the recipe with zucchini. That was the first change I made to the original recipe, and some other changed followed; added the chicken sausage, used grape tomatoes, doubled the tomato paste, and the basil, and reserved the pasta water to make the dish saucier. I also used whole wheat penne.
I really like this pasta. The vegetables were just tender, not too hard or too mushy. The flavor of the sauce had a perfect level of spicy because of the red pepper, and it was light enough to be a good summer pasta. A dollop of ricotta on top gave the pasta a nice amount of creaminess and was also a great complement to the spice. You could sprinkle parmesan on top instead, but I really liked the refreshing ricotta. (more…)