Sunday, June 17, 2012

An Inspired Idea

Something we home cooks don't get enough credit for is getting dinner on the table every night -- or almost every night -- and keeping it interesting and delicious year after year after year. I do my grocery shopping once a week, and at least once a month I'll sit at my kitchen table surrounded by cookbooks and the weekly circular and proclaim "I don't know what to make for dinner anymore!" It's a sad, frustrating moment.

I recently discovered sometimes you just have to throw the cookbook out the window.

Amid all my recipes there was one I had printed from Giada DeLaurentiis. I'm sure this recipe is just fine as it is, but at that moment, with the exception of the roasted peppers, it just wasn't appealing to me -- especially the pasta. The recipe called for orzo, and I just wasn't feeling it. So I decided to keep the peppers and start over from scratch. And the end result was a Country Cooking original recipe that was not only a hit with the family, but a perfect meal on a warm, clear day.

Of course, harder than deciding what to make for dinner that week was trying to name this dish. I chose "Country Summer Pasta" because nothing says "summer" to me like sausage, peppers, and basil fresh out of the garden. But I'm open to suggestions, so if you have one, send it in!

Country Summer Pasta
A Country Cooking Original Recipe


  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 pound gemelli pasta
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • ricotta and parmesan cheeses, for serving


  1. Place the peppers on a baking sheet under the broiler for about 8 minutes -- roughly 4 per side -- until charred. Place the charred peppers in a medium bowl. (Stainless steel works great.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the peppers to steam for 20 minutes. Under running water, peel away the charred skin. Pat the peppers dry with paper towels. Remove the stem and seeds from the peppers and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Then cut the slices in half, so they're roughly the same size as the pasta. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add salt and pasta. Cooking according to package directions.
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey sausage, breaking into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Sauté until cooked through. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
  4. Add wine to deglaze the pan. Let reduce for 5 minutes. And chicken broth, peppers and tomatoes to pan. Let peppers and tomatoes heat through and broth reduce a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the sausage mixture and basil, and toss well to combine all ingredients, adding reserved cooking liquid, if needed, to loosen the pasta.
  6. Top each serving with parmesan cheese and a tablespoon or two of ricotta.

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