Wright’s Smoked Sausage and Leek Orecchiette

sausage and leek pasta
I’m here to proclaim my love for a particular brand of sausage.  No one is paying me, I’m just that fanatic about it.  If you try it, you will feel the same way.  Wright’s has been making amazing pork products for years.  We first fell in love with their peppered, thick-cut bacon a few years back when our friend, John, made these amazing bacon wrapped jalapenos for a company party and said, “The secret is Wright’s!”  Just a couple months ago we noticed their line of ground sausage.  They have a regular, hot and spicy, sage and smoked.  The smoked is astoundingly good.  I can’t adequately describe it so I’ll just say – go buy it and put it in everything from eggs, to pizza to pasta to your sausage gravy and you will not only gain at least ten pounds at the end of your quest, but you will be happier.  At least that’s how it happened to me.

I created this little pasta dish with ground smokey sausage, sauteed leeks and crushed red pepper.  A pretty classic combination but with that smokey sausage, it takes it to a new level.  The orecchiette pasta was perfect for holding little bits of sausage and leek – this is a fast dinner that is completely satisfying and easy to throw together after work.  After you try this sausage, you will keep one on hand at all times.

leek and sausage pasta

Smokey Sausage and Leek Orecchiette
serves 4-6

8 oz orecchiette pasta, or any short and broad pasta
2 medium sized leeks, cleaned, halved and chopped into 1/4″ strips (about 2 cups of leeks)
8 oz Wright’s Smoked Sausage
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup leftover pasta water after boiling
crushed red pepper flakes

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. (More salt than you think – for a gallon pot, I’d say at least 1/4 cup of salt.  I know – the pasta is flavored by it, it doesn’t absorb it all.  Your pasta will be good enough to eat plain.) Add the pasta and cook to the package directions – usually 12-15 minutes until al dente.  While the pasta water is coming to a boil and while the pasta cooks, cook the sausage, leaving in moderate sized chunks, until cooked through.  Drain the sausage on paper towels and drain off all but a tablespoon of the grease and saute the leeks until  starting to color on the edges.  Then, add a splash of water, cover, and let steam for 10 minutes until soft.
Add the cooked pasta to the leeks and fold in the sausage.  Add the cheddar cheese and stir till melted.  Then add the 1/2 cup of pasta water and stir until fully incorporated and everything is smooth (pasta water is an instant sauce-maker for pasta.)  Garnish with crushed red pepper and serve!  The baby ate this UP.



Shocking Red Pasta – just in time for Halloween

Pink Pasta

I’ve been busy working on a post about my week in food.  By request, a few of you expressed interest in seeing the “normal, everyday” recipes we do around here, so every night since my Sweet Potato Pie post (below), I’ve been taking pics of some element of what we’ve eaten at most meals.  There’s a few keeper recipes in there, so stay tuned!

For today – RED pasta!  It looks almost gruesome.  I got the recipe from Clotilde’s amazing vegetarian cookbook, The French Market Cookbook.  She called it Shocking Pink Pasta, but mine was just not pink, it was straight-up RED.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the addition of the cumin (no offense to the original recipe – it’s not you, it’s me,)  so I swapped out dried thyme (in my head) and I think it would go great with the other flavors.  This is a good use of beets, once again.  I just love them.  This dish had great flavor, was a stretch for the imagination and was actually pretty fun – not exactly the most common words you’d use to describe a simple dinner that took 20 minutes to make, was healthy and included beets.  If I were you, I’d serve this for dinner on Halloween night.  Then you could sit back and eat a side of leftover candy and not feel too much remorse with your blood, I mean beet-stained hands 🙂  Bwahahaha…

Shocking Red Pasta
serves 4

2 cups beets, about 4 medium – peeled and cubed
1 cup light whipping cream
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 pound pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2⁄3 cup almonds, toasted

In a food processor or blender, combine the beets, cream, garlic, salt, and thyme. Process until smooth.  Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and cook until it’s al dente. Drain, return the pasta to the pot, and fold in the sauce. Return to medium heat and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.  Divide among warm bowls, sprinkle with pepper, and top with the parsley and almonds. Serve immediately.