Friday, July 29, 2011
After a long day at work, coming home to a no-so-clean kitchen and an empty fridge that was practically screaming "please stock me!" with no mode of transportation to the nearest supermarket, I was faced with the dilemma of having to concoct some edible meal with the contents of my refrigerator.  I managed to find some frozen pasta samples that my husband had brought home from work (being that he works in a restaurant, vendors are always bringing him samples of new products that generally end up in our refrigerator and tested in our kitchen, oh the perks of being in the restaurant business), about a pound of spicy chorizo and a bag of broccoli rabe.  Usually I would just put all these ingredients together, but since I was out of tomato sauce, I was drawing a blank on what to make.  After a little web surfing, I came across this recipe and decided to give it a try with a few substitutions:

Italian Sausage, Pasta & Broccoli
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 12 oz. Penne pasta
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 4 cups broccoli, cut up
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet.  Add garlic, saute until golden and crisp (a couple of minutes).  Remove garlic with slotted spoon, set aside.  Remove sausage from casing, crumble and cook in skillet until brown (3 to 4 minutes), cover and simmer about 10 minutes.  Remove meat with slotted spoon, set aside, save fat.
  2. Bring large pot of water to boil.  Add broccoli, blanch for 3 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon, rinse with cold water, set aside, save liquid.
  3. Bring broccoli cooking liquid to boil again and add Penne and cook until tender.  Drain, reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.  Keep Penne warm in covered bowl.
  4. In large saucepan heat sausage, broccoli, reserved 1/2 cup of liquid, remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons fat.
  5. Mix pasta with above.  Add Parmesan cheese and fennel seed (if desired), sprinkle with sauteed garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
Image courtesy of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations
This sounded like the perfect recipe for my ingredients, so I decided to give it a try.  For all you novice broccoli rabe cooks out there (last night was a first for me too), try the recipe found at for tips.  Dinner turned out beautifully and I'm very proud of my recent successes in the kitchen.  This cooking thing is starting to make sense to me a little more.  I now have a better understanding why people say "cooking is an art".  Yes, recipes are a great guideline for making a terrific meal, but a little imagination goes a long way.  If I had just sat around searching for recipes that contained the exact ingredients that I had, I still would have been missing one ingredient or another, that's if I were to find something in the first place!  With a little imagination and an open mind, I was able to put together a meal worth eating!  Buon Appetito!


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