Okay, I have to admit, I was flying without a net on this one. This whole Covid-19 pandemic thing has kept me off balance, in every aspect of my life.
It’s not uncommon for me to rummage through my pantry or refrigerator to scrape together a meal. Often times, everything comes together nicely because I know which food items pair well with other items. Next thing you know, “Dinner is served!”
But this was a case of “Oh no, what am I going to do with all of this stuff?” That kind of thinking at the onset usually leads to questionable results.
The only reason I had angel hair pasta was because I picked it up by accident. I meant to get spaghetti…you know, real spaghetti, not the dainty, angel haired variety. I have found that I am not very observant in the grocery store, now that I’m wearing a mask and trying not to over-handle items on the shelves. The chicken sausage looked interesting, so I picked it up. It was stuffed with chopped basil leaves and it seemed like something fun to try. I had sun dried tomatoes, packed away in my freezer, a few fresh tomatoes, a few pieces of broccoli, some Parmesan cheese and a few semi-fresh hot dog buns in my pantry. All of those ingredients are worthy, in their own right, and could be put to good use but my mind drew a blank when it came time to put everything together.
As it turned out, the dish qualified as real food. The sauce was a little too thick but, the leftovers were great! I added a cup of water to the leftovers and put it in the microwave for two minutes and voila! Perfectly, creamy.
I mention all of this to illustrate a point. Being a home cook isn’t easy, especially with the added stress of a pandemic and civil unrest. Some home cooks, myself included, come home every evening and are faced with the daunting task of making something delicious and nutritious and…something that we haven’t already had three times this week, for goodness sake!
3 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
½ cup sun dried tomatoes
1 ripe Roma tomato, sliced into 1/2” discs
1 tsp fresh rosemary, diced
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp coarse salt
2 Tbs butter
¼ cup half and half (milk and cream)
2 cups water
2 large pieces of broccoli, stems and leaves included
8 oz chicken sausage (4 links)
2 cups cooked angel hair pasta
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
A few hot dog buns
In a hot skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tsp of mashed roasted garlic. Simmer for a minute.
Add the half and half and 1 cup of water and cook for a few minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese and turn the heat off. Remove the cheese sauce to a bowl and keep warm.
In a separate pan, boil some water and add the broccoli. Cook until tender. Remove and slice into long pieces. Set aside.
Slice the tomato and set aside.
Cook the pasta according to the directions, drain and set aside.
In a large pan, add a little olive oil and then add a teaspoon of mashed, roasted garlic. Simmer for a minute and then add the chicken sausage. Simmer at medium heat, turning the sausages occasionally.
Remove the sausages and cut into 1” pieces.
Return the sausage back to the pan and sauté for a few minutes.
Add the sun dried tomatoes and rosemary, stir for a minute. Add the fresh tomatoes and simmer at low/medium heat for five minutes.
Add the melted cheese mixture. Stir briefly.
Add 1 cup of water and the cooked broccoli and stir to combine. Add the cooked pasta and mix. Top with a little more grated Parmesan cheese. Serve warm with toasted, buttered hot dog buns.
Remember, making dinner is really just an invitation for families to sit together. Conversation at the dinner table is the real prize. Dinner-time conversations will linger in hearts and minds long after the food is gone!