Monday, March 26, 2012

Penne with vegetable meat sauce ~ a healthy version

The sauce:
1/2 lb Italian chicken sausage
2 pints of home canned tomatoes or 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pkg mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t sea salt
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
cracked black pepper
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1 handful of freshly chopped herbs - parsley, oregano, thyme, basil and rosemary

1/2 lb brown rice or whole wheat pasta

Chop all the veggies and herbs. 
 Over medium heat, brown the meat in a little olive oil and remove from pan.
 In the same pan, add a bit more olive oil and saute the onion, carrot, and celery until tender.
 Add mushrooms and garlic (more oil, if needed) and cook for another 5 minutes. Add 1/2 of salt now plus crushed pepper flakes and black pepper.

Add 2 pints of home canned tomatoes or 1 28 oz can of your preferred brand of crushed tomatoes. Might I recommend Muir Glen organic crushed tomatoes, if going this route. Simmer for 10-30 minutes until the sauce is thick, making sure to scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.

Meanwhile cook 1/2 lb of brown rice pasta (Lundberg is really good) in heavily salted water. Brown rice pasta really needs some work, but don't dismiss it if you've had a bad experience--it's really good for you. And with this sauce. . . . When the pasta is al dente, add it directly to the sauce using a slotted spoon/spider. It's OK to bring along some of the pasta water as it is rich with starch and pasta flavor and helps bring everything together. Cook for another minute or two and add herbs and cheese as you turn off the heat.

Serve with grated parmesan and a garlic crostini. Serves 4

Special Tidbit

If you're not into the health scene, by all means use regular pork sausage or ground beef and white pasta of any sort. It's all good!
Leftovers are great topped with lots of mozzarella and baked in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees.
For a great vegetarian version, replace the meat with chopped zucchini, squash, capers and fennel seed. Just as good if not better than a meat sauce!

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