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30-minute dinners are a weeknight necessity

LyndaBalslev
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Lynda Balslev

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Lynda Balslev

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Now that school is back in full swing, we need a few simple recipes up our sleeves for fast and nourishing dinners. This bowl of pasta should be on your list. It’s a fresh and robust weeknight dinner you can whip up in less than 30 minutes. The simple sauce relies on my favorite pantry staple: Italian plum tomatoes that blanket crisp-tender broccolini in a vibrant sauce that’s boosted with garlic and chili flakes. The addition of Italian sausage adds an extra oomph of spicy flavor and protein.

Broccolini is a slender version of broccoli with narrow stalks, which makes it perfect for sauteing, since the stalks and florets will cook in the same amount of time. No more worries about overcooking the florets while you wait for a thick stalk to thoroughly cook! Broccolini is naturally sweet and tender, so simply cook until it’s crisp-tender to keep its flavor and color bright.

 

Spicy Sausage, Broccolini and Tomato Pasta

Active time: 25 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 pound pasta, such as farfalle or fusilli

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

12 ounces spicy Italian sausage

12 ounces broccolini, cut in 1-inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed (torn in half, if large)

⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slice sausage crosswise ⅓ inch thick.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the same skillet and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the broccolini and saute over medium heat until bright green but still crisp, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, breaking the tomatoes apart with a spoon. Return the sausages to the skillet. Stir to combine and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Remove the sauce from the heat and pour over the pasta. Add the basil and cheese and stir to combine. Serve immediately, garnished with extra cheese.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area. Contact her at tastefood@tastefoodblog.com.

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