i categorize my cooking into two categories: weekend cooking and weekday cooking. weekend cooking is the leisurely (or sometimes arduous) adventure that can take you all day (or even all weekend!) in the kitchen. it's the production that goes into a dinner party or the 4 hours needed to test out a new recipe that involves 20+ different ingredients. weekday cooking, on the other hand, is the, "i just got home from a 10 hour workday. why am i not rich enough to hire a personal chef? damn, i gotta get something into my stomach," kind of cooking. you want weekday cooking to be quick, but at least if you're me, you don't want it to be microwave-a-tv-dinner quick.
after coming home from a long work day, i still crave something hearty and healthy but it's gotta be something i can make in 20 to 30 minutes without too many fussy ingredients or prep-work. this recipe came about one night as i was surveying what i had in my cupboard and refrigerator after a day in the office. i was craving pasta but i didn't want to just boil some noodles and dump some jarred sauce on top, so i came up with this pasta sauce that makes you feel like you actually cooked something without too much work. plus, with my secret ingredient, you'll soon be rethinking the traditional italian tomato sauce. oh, and did i mention that it covers all 4 of the 5 food groups?
to turn this weekday meal into a weekend meal, double the recipe below, pour into a 9x13 casserole dish, top with some delicious bechamel sauce and bake in an oven for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. that's all it takes for a great centerpiece for your next dinner party menu.
sausage & mushroom pasta sauce
serves 2-3 (great to pack up serving #2 & #3 for tomorrow's lunch)
1/2 lb. pasta (short pasta shapes such as penne rigate, fusili, gemelli work the best)
the meat from 3 sweet or hot italian sausages, casings removed
1 tsp. rosemary
2 portobello mushrooms
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 tbs. adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chile peppers)
fill a saucepan with 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil on high heat.
while the water is coming to a boil, slice up portobellos. i typically slice my portobellos like this to ensure each piece is about the same size:
when the water comes to a boil, salt heavily (and i mean heavily) with sea salt. add pasta, lower heat to medium and cook to al-dente (still with a bite), usually about 8 to 10 minutes.
while pasta is cooking, heat up a 4 qt. saute pan over medium-high heat. add the italian sausage and cook for about 8 minutes. used the back of a wooden spoon to break sausage up into pieces while cooking. once the meat the gets a golden brown color, remove it from the pan into a separate bowl using a slotted spoon to leave any residual juices. add mushrooms and the rosemary to the pan. cook for 1 minute and then add tomato sauce. use the sauce to deglaze some of the brown bits left from the sausage which will add some great flavor to your sauce. add the adobo sauce, which while i've never seen as an ingredient for pasta sauce adds an incredibly hot kick that completely changes the flavor profile of your sauce. toss with cooked pasta and serve hot with shavings of parmesan-reggiano.