Random Bag Night – Pasta with Sausage, Spinach & Tomato

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We are fortunate enough to have a member of the family (my father-in-law) who has been successful in making his own homemade sausage. Above is a batch of the sweet sausage which we had in the freezer. I mentioned in one of my earliest posts that basic tomato sauce can be modified to add almost any sort of vegetable or protein to it, making the possibilities almost endless. This is one such dish which is an easy modification of the original tomato sauce recipe and all of the ingredients were things we had on hand at home making this a true Random Bag Night since nothing at all was picked up on the way home. For those of you who hate to do dishes (like me), this is just a 2 pot dish – 1 pot for sauce and 1 for the pasta. 

The following are the ingredients for the sauce:

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

1/2 onion, sliced thin

sausage – I had about 1/2 lb, sliced

2 generous handfuls fresh spinach

1 can tomatoes, crushed

Basil – 1 Tblsp dried, 5~6 leaves chopped if fresh

Olive oil – enough to coat bottom of sauce pan

salt & pepper to taste

Coat pan in olive oil, add garlic and onion and saute on medium heat until the onions have softened (maybe 3 minutes). Add sausage , browning it lightly on all sides – approximately 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, a pinch of salt and the basil. Allow the sauce to simmer on medium-low heat while the pasta cooks. When the pasta is close to being done, add the spinach to the sauce and stir in until it is wilted. The sauce should look something like this:

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I used rigatoni with this sauce – any sort of short pasta like that, or ziti or penne would work. Linguini & spaghetti wouldn’t stand up to the chunks of sausage. I know people think all pasta tastes the same, but the shape really does matter when it comes to pairing pastas with sauces! Most often, you see the shorter pastas with the meatier, thicker sauces, and the long, thin pastas with the lighter sauces (like clam sauce, or carbonara). The shape determines how the pasta holds the sauce and that, in turn, affects the flavor. (I could, of course, be completely talking out of my @ss right now, but have you ever seen penne with a white clam sauce !?!?)

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This kind of modification of basic pasta sauce will work for many other combinations. For example, you can start with the garlic, onions & olive oil and add cauliflower & tomato, or zucchini & tomato, or eggplant, black olives & tomato, etc. etc.  You get the idea. There are many permutations for making delicious and interesting pasta dishes.

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