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30-Minute Get Real Meals: Bucatini with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

This is the dish that Rachael Ray is posing with on the cover of 30-Minute Get Real Meals. And I have to say, I think the food stylist cheated. Because what Ray's holding is a balanced plate of pasta and sausage, but what the recipe makes...well, it should be renamed "Sausage with Onions, Pepper, and a Few Strands of Bucatini."

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For 4 servings (4 BIG servings, as emphasized in the book), the recipe calls for 1/2 pound of pasta and 2 pounds of sausage. What I ended up with was a big bowl of sausage with a couple of lonely tubes (bucatini are fat, hollow spaghetti, more or less) looking forlorn in the midst of all that meat. This is where the low-carb mandate of the cookbook fails, because there's just no way to make a dish like this and have the sausage overpower the pasta — the end result is not good. I also questioned the use of bucatini, since a shaped pasta such as orecchiette (ears) or large shells seems like it might catch the sausage bits better. Sure enough, when I remade this recipe using a full pound of orecchiette, the balance between meat and pasta actually...balanced. And the shaped pasta were easier to eat.

In my revised recipe, I recommend that you chop the onion and peppers, rather than slice them into thin strips. I found the long strips in the original recipe difficult to pick up, and rather unwieldy while also trying to find a bit of pasta and spear a chunk of sausage. Chopped veggies fit onto the fork and clung to the orecchiette better.

The original recipe calls for cubanelle peppers, which aren't easy to find in my neck of the woods. I substituted pasillas, another mild green pepper. If you can't find any mild green peppers other than bells, use a couple more red, orange, or yellow bell peppers. Don't use green bell peppers: they have an unpleasant flavor and I avoid them whenever possible.

In an unfortunate bit of editing, the original recipe also calls for a "can" of crushed tomatoes. No indication what size. I used a 15-oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes from Muir Glen, which added a nice smokiness to the dish.



Orecchiette with Sausage, Onions, and Peppers
(revised version)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

16-oz. package of shaped pasta, such as orecchiette or shells
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 cubanelle peppers (or other mild green peppers, such as pasilla or poblano), cored, seeded, and diced
15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup (20 leaves) fresh basil, torn or shredded

Bring a large pot of water to boil. When boiling, add salt (at least 2 Tbsp) and pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat a very large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and all of the sausage. Brown and crumble the sausage, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove sausage to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Drain off pan drippings, leaving 3 Tbsp in the pan. Add the garlic, onion, and peppers to the pan and cook until tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Once tender, add tomatoes and heat through. Add sausage back to the pan and combine. Season the mixture with a bit of salt and fresh black pepper. Add the sausage mixture to the pasta, and stir in cheese, parsley, and basil.



Bucatini with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
from 30-Minute Get Real Meals

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 BIG servings

1/2 pound bucatini pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large yellow onion, quartered, then thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, quartered, and thinly sliced
2 cubanelle peppers (long, light-green mild Italian peppers), seeded and thinly sliced
1 can chunky-style crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup (20 leaves) fresh basil, torn or shredded

 

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