One of the great things about having a food blog is that it gives me an excellent excuse to ask people about what they like to cook. The discussion of food is a natural conversation starter, with old friends I haven’t seen for a while, or even with complete strangers. “What are your favorite foods?” will always get a response, and from there, I can usually figure out if the person likes to cook as well. Then the next question is, “what’s your favorite recipe?”
Take my friend Bruce. Bruce loves to cook, has for as long as I’ve known him, over 20 years. He even contributed this winner to the site last year – the green salsa chicken bake. When he was visiting the other day, our chatter naturally turned to recipes. This is the one he shared with me that he makes with regularity: a bowl of pasta, simply tossed with Italian sausage, fresh chopped tomato, and basil. Sometimes he swaps out the sausage for shrimp. He’ll use any long pasta, though prefers fettucini. So good! And it comes together so quickly. Perfect for a midweek meal.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can easily play around with it. Don't have sausage? Use shrimp instead. Have lots of basil? Add more. Don't have capers? Just leave them out. Have Parmesan? Sprinkle some on at the end if you like.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 pound Italian sausage, sweet or hot
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped
- 1 Tbsp capers
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives, halved
- 3-4 large fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 pound linguine or other pasta
1 Heat a large pot of salted water (1 Tbsp salt per quart of water) to a boil.
2 While the water is heating, prepare the sausage and peppers. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the sausage, breaking it up into bits with your fingers as you add it to the pan or with a wooden spoon once it's in the pan. When the sausage starts to brown, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Mix in the roasted red peppers, capers and olives. If the pasta water isn't boiling yet, remove the sauté pan from the heat.
3 Once the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta to the pot. When the pasta is almost done, increase the heat to high on the sauté pan and when the sausage mixture starts to sizzle, add the chopped tomatoes and basil. Toss to combine and lower the heat to medium-low.
4 Drain the pasta and put it in a large bowl. Add the sausage mix to the bowl and toss to combine.