If you’ve had a long day at work and the idea of cooking makes you want to pull your hair out, this recipe is for you. This is my perennial – whole wheat linguine, herbed sausage and basil. A little olive oil, garlic, cracked pepper and a smattering of pecorino Romano cheese and dinner is on the table in 10. I make many variations on this easy dish – sometimes I toss in sundried tomatoes that have been soaked in olive oil, fresh goat cheese and spinach. To die for!
Ingredients (serves one generously)
Note: I use all local/organic ingredients because this is how I fox trot
4 oz of whole wheat linguine (1/4 of the bag)
One small-medium sausage link. (I go for the sweet sausage, herbed sausage variation. I’m not a fan of the hot sausage in this dish)
A handful of basil
2 tbsp pecorino Romano cheese (you can use Parmesan, however, I really prefer the sharpness of this cheese against the bland whole wheat pasta)
A drizzling of olive oil (not extra-virgin)
Cracked black pepper/salt (to taste)
1 garlic clove, finely minced
Fill a medium saucepan (pot) with water. Bring it to a boil. Once the water is furiously boiling, add the pasta in. The Venetians say pasta water should be as salty as the sea so add a few tablespoons of salt. This is the only opportunity you have to flavor the pasta, so do it now! Stir the pasta frequently so as it doesn’t stick. Now, you guys know that I heart Martha. Martha is the omnipotent one, the sage, but on one thing she is very, very mistaken. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT add olive oil to the water. Why, you wonder? Let me tell you from one who has ruined many a pasta:
1. You are wasting expensive oil. Even the cheap stuff is $6 a bottle.
2. The oil will adhere to the pasta and the pasta will not adhere to your sauce. Translation=bland, flavorless pasta
3. It is simply wrong
Now that we have the no oiling of the pasta rule covered, let’s move on. Your pasta won’t stick if you have enough water in the pot and if you stir the pasta in the first few minutes of cooking. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than what the package says until it’s al dente (to the tooth). The pasta should be cooked but have a slight bite to it. No one loves gummy pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a medium-sized pan. Take the sausage out of its casing and break apart in your hands. When the pan is hot, toss in the sausage with the olive oil. You’ll hear a pop and a sizzle, and that’s good. That means your meat will have a nice sear and will get the delish caramelized brown color. The sausage should cook within 5-7 minutes. On the last minute, throw in the garlic. You don’t want to add the garlic in the beginning because garlic cooks fast and you’ll get charred bits rather than garlic sausage.
When the pasta is done, add it directly to the pot in which you’re cooking the sausage. Add some of the starchy pasta water. Stir to blend. Add the basil, cheese, salt & pepper. Serve hot.
Variation: Want to turn the volume up on this dish? Add sundried tomatoes (packed/soaked in olive oil), goat cheese, 1 cup of spinach.
Tip: When you’re cooking pasta (except for cold pasta salads), do not run cold water on cooked pasta. This will wash off all of the starch that makes your sauces adhere to the pasta.