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

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

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).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

White Bean Toasts with Parsley-Basil Drizzle

This is one of those super easy and super quick appetizers to throw together.  You probably have most of these ingredients in your kitchen already.  They're great warm or at room temperature so you could easily transport them to a party and add the dressing when you get there.

Total Time: about 20 minutes
Makes about 20-24 toasts


1 small bunch Italian parsley
1 small bunch basil
extra-virgin olive oil (about 1/3 cup)
1 baguette
olive oil for brushing
2 Tbsps bacon fat
2 cans white beans (or navy beans, or cannellini), drained and rinsed
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400F.

In a food processor, pulse the parsley and basil leaves until chopped.  Add enough extra-virgin olive oil until you get a thick-ish dressing (it shouldn't be so thick that you can't drizzle it from a squeeze bottle or spoon).  Put in a bowl or squeeze bottle and set aside.

Cut the baguette on a diagonal into 1/2-inch slices.  Lightly brush one side of each slice with the olive oil and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake in the oven until the top gets a bit toasty, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the bacon fat.  Add the drained beans and season with salt and pepper.  Stir until sufficiently warmed, then transfer to a food processor to puree or puree with a stick blender.

Spread some puree on each toast, then drizzle them all with the herb dressing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.