Monday, January 31, 2011

Rotini with Sausage, Lentils, Red Onion, and Tomatoes

I had a smidge of dried lentils leftover and some really amazing sausage (see my note below). This dish is the result: it's a super simple recipe, but good-quality ingredients are the key (and thankfully most of them are already in your pantry).

Total time: about 45 minutes
Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 C dried lentils
1 lb dried rotini (penne rigate would work well too)
2 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped (about a cup and a half)
1 pint grape tomatoes, washed, sliced in half (or quarters, if you like)
1 lb really good mild sausage (mine came from May Tree Farm - it was flavored with sage and black and red peppercorns)
1/2 C sherry
1/4 C parsley, chopped
1 C grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano

Procedure:
Heat a large pot with at least 4 quarts of water; bring to a boil. Season very generously with salt. Cook the lentils, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the lentils with a spider strainer and return the water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup cooking liquid and drain pasta. When you've finished cooking the other ingredients and you're ready to throw the dish together, return the pasta back to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic and stir until the garlic begins to brown (but don't let it burn). Remove the garlic and add the onion and sausage. Cook until the sausage is light brown, about 5 minutes, breaking up with a spoon as it browns. Add the sherry and cook, stirring until almost all liquid evaporates. Add the tomatoes and cooked lentils and stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

To the pasta in the large pot, add the sausage-lentil mixture, grated cheese, and parsley and toss to coat. Add enough reserved pasta cooking water to moisten. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve; pass around some extra grated cheese if you really want to (and I know you do).

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