After posing the question, “what do you want for dinner tonight?” I’m often filled with regret, for asking, as ultimately, I really enjoy making what I like to eat. Occasionally we go through this exercise, only to roll back to my wife asking, “well what do YOU want to make”
With that said, however, I’m always happy when she suggests pasta. So tonight, it’s one of our favourites, whole wheat spaghetti with Italian sausage, fennel and tomatoes.
I always stress to people, the keys to successfully cooking pasta are
a) lots of water and
b) salt your water.
Can I say it again? Salt Your Water!!
How much salt you ask? Lots!
Make your pasta water taste like the Mediterranean… Now if you need a frame of reference, this might be a good time to start the Italian vacation plans for next spring. If this isn’t an option, just make sure the water is salty.
Bring your water to a boil, add salt and pasta, stir to loosen the strands. There is no need to oil the water. If you use lots of water, it won’t stick. After cooking I drain, rinse very briefly, toss with a little olive oil and reserve. Don’t soak it in a cold water bath! If it’s going to sit for a while, I’ll spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool.
For my sauce, I start with hot Italian sausage. Slice the casing and remove. Cook the sausage
meat as you would ground beef, stirring to break up the large pieces. Once mostly cooked remove from the pan.
I’m lucky to still have some good “blades” at home. Most of my knives, including a favourite Grohman, complete with a broken tip, were lost in the fire. That was my first real knife, a gift when I attended cooking school twenty years ago.
I’ve diced a cup of fennel, ½ Spanish onion and chopped 5 cloves of garlic and 2/3 cup fresh parsley. Add the onion and fennel to the sausage pan, cook over medium heat until softened. Add garlic and continue cooking. If you have a little white wine, throw a splash in now.
I’ll add 1 tsp crushed chilies, 1 tsp freshly cracked pepper and 3 cups of tomato sauce.
Cooked sausage goes back in to simmer for four or five minutes.
Finish with the parsley!
PS. Do let me know how yours turned out, use the comment form below or email me @firstname.lastname@example.org!