I had another one of those days where the mental image of what I wanted for dinner hit me while I was in the car on my way home. I was already planning to stop by the grocery store to pick up some Airborne for my almost-sorta-kinda-sick hubby, so I just picked up a few extra things while I was there.
But I was already hungry by the time I got home, so I thought I’d indulge in a little pre-dinner snack. I sliced up some fresh French bread and dipped it in some fancy dipping oil with sundried tomato and basil as if I was at an Italian restaurant, except I was leaning over the counter to eat, using my apron as a napkin, laughing at my puppies as they played, and rocking out to the Pandora app on my tablet. Other than that, just like eating at an Italian restaurant.
Also, I was drinking wine, a delicious malbec that my friend brought over the night I made crumb-coated chicken thighs.
This penne dish has something for both hubby and I. I love the creamy pasta sauce, and he loves the sweet Italian sausage. It’s a pretty good compromise, so I’m not sure why it’s been so long since I’ve made it. Anyway, start by taking off all the casings on the sweet Italian sausages before you do anything else. I use twice as much sausage as the recipe calls for because when I’ve made this in the past, hubby has told me that he liked everything except that it didn’t have enough sausage.
Plop it in a big skillet with a healthy dose of olive oil and heat it until it’s browned.
While that’s going on, start boiling your penne. Honestly, I seriously thought about halving this recipe, but then I admitted to myself that I didn’t want to deal with that. I was tired and craving carbs, so if the recipe called for a whole pound of penne pasta even though I was only planning on serving hubby and myself, why the hell not?
That sausage is starting to look and smell pretty amazing. Someday they’ll figure out how to share scents over the Internet, but for now you’ll just have to do with a picture. I’ve just added a bunch of minced garlic and half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to make it zippy.
After the garlic has started to brown a bit, add a big 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a while.
While it’s doing that, you can start prepping your sides. First, I saw something at the grocery store that I just HAD to pick up. This is why you should never shop when hungry.
That’s a giant scoop of garlic bread spread. I don’t think it has any actual butter in it, just butter-flavored things, plus garlic and what looks like parsley or some other green leafy thing, but it just smelled delicious. I think this is what frozen Texas toast is made from. I guess making my own would have been better, but this was just so easy and tasty.
There’s that French bread again. I guess I didn’t take pictures of it slathered with my garlic bread spread. Use your imagination.
And then I wanted to make some green beans. I’ve had this on my list of things to blog about for forever but haven’t because it’s somewhat unremarkable.
First, steam some fresh green beans.
After about 5 minutes, put it in a bowl. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, white wine vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and parsley. Last time I made it, I realized that it called for too much Parmesan cheese – it was overwhelming.
I was more careful this time.
Both times, I used minced garlic instead of sliced and did not pick it back out after a while, like the recipe says to do. Sue me.
Turning back to the pasta, it’s ready.
Add some vodka and some heavy cream to the sauce
Once it’s mixed in, add in that pasta and stir for another minute until everything is well-mixed.
Isn’t that nice? The sauce is creamy and has a bit of a bite to it, which you can chalk up to the crushed red pepper flakes.
As for the green beans, they weren’t as good as I remember them being the last time. Is it because I bought the beans from the farmer’s market last time, but from the grocery store in January this time? Because I used more cheese last time? Because I used regular white vinegar last time instead of white wine vinegar? Because I ate all that bread an hour before eating this?
Eh, who cares. It was all tasty.
Especially that garlic bread.