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Italian sausage ideas

This week I found a good bargain on Italian sausage, which I've never bought before, and it's sitting in the freezer until I decide what to do with it to bring out its distinctive flavor (by that I mean, distinctly Italian, not just cooking it like any other sausage). I found a good recipe for Italian sausage and tortellini soup, and another for sauteeing it with broccoli rabe. What do you like to do with Italian sausage that does NOT involve bell peppers?

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  1. Take the meat out of the casings and break it up with fingers or a fork. Fry in olive oil until done, then add a good from-scratch tomato sauce, add cooked, drained penne or ziti, top with breadcrumbs and grated parmigiano or grana, and bake 20-25 minutes at 400°.

    1. Here's a simple, delicious classic:

      Cavatelli with Italian Sausage & Broco

      Ingredients:
      1/2 pound(about 2 cups)dried cavatelli OR other small shell-shaped pasta
      1/2 pound(about 3 links)Sweet Italian Sausage
      1 bunch(about 3/4 lb.)brocolli rabe, tough and hollow stems discarded, washed well
      1 garlic clove, minced
      1 1/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
      1/4 cup golden raisins
      1 tablespoon unsalted butter

      Accompaniment: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

      Directions:
      In a kettle of boiling salted water cook pasta until al dente. While pasta is cooking, squeeze sausage from its casings into a large heavy skillet and saute over moderately high heat, stirring to break up chunks, until no longer pink. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl, reserving drippings in skillet.

      Cut brocolli rabe into 1-inch pieces and saute in reserved drippings, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown. Add garlic and saute, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Add broth and raisins and simmer until brocolli rabe is just tender, about 3 minutes. Add butter, stirring until incorporated.

      Drain pasta and return to kettle. Add brocolli rabe mixture and sausage and heat through if necessary.

      Serve with Parmesan.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bostonbob3

        Yeah! That's the exact recipe I found. It sounds great. In fact, all of these sound great.

      2. I, too, love the combo of broccoli rabe and Ital sausage (hot and sweet). I however, taking the recipe from Lydia Bastianich in the J. Child book Cooking With Master Chefs, I think (It's now so long ago that it's very foggy), use chili flakes instead of raisins. There are a couple of other differences in "my" recipe: no butter. Lydia uses orecchiette (little ears) to catch lots of bits of sausage, rabe and sauce. I also use many cloves of garlic and sometimes onion.

        It's a verrry deelish way of cooking all these ingreds.

        5 Replies
        1. re: oakjoan

          Funny, I just saw Lydia on TV making a pasta, broccoli rabe, and pepper flakes dish today. And as I prefer spicy to sweet, switching chili for the raisins makes a lot of sense.

          1. re: oakjoan

            This is a great recipe, a standby I make all the time. I don't use butter either and push up the garlic quotient very high. Sweet sausage I find really works for some reason, balances out the garlic and bitterness of the rabe. She also cooked the rabe in a little bit of chicken stock which I find adds lots of depth of flavour.

            1. re: Mila

              You and several other people (and Epicurious) refer to "sweet" Italian sausage. Does that just mean mild, as opposed to hot?

              1. re: zorra

                Around here (San Francisco) that's the usual distinction--"hot" has chili flakes, "mild" or "sweet" usually has fennel seed. Molinari's Deli in North Beach makes both of those plus a version with neither chili nor fennel but lots of garlic; that's the one I prefer. They call it "regular" or "plain" or something equally uninformative--I specify "no fennel" or "senza finocchio" to make sure I'm getting what I want.

                1. re: zorra

                  Yes, exactly. It is not sweet tasting, as in sugary, but just not hot. With the Lydia recipe there are a lot of strong flavours going on and it seems to balance it out nicely.

            2. Black lentil and sausage stew is hearty and sausage-y, but heavy enough on the lentils that the whole concoction is fairly/sorta/kinda defensible health-wise. Exact recipe is on the label of the black lentils sold by Trader Joe's, but it's basically (this is my adaptation): sautee the de-cased sausage meat, onions, garlic, some sort of pepper if you like (I like hot ones). When sausage is browned and onions are translucent, add a cup and a half of black lentils and chicken broth to cover. Cook until lentils are soft, about 45 minutes. You can add some corn if you like at the end. I like to serve over quinoa, and enjoy it with avocado-and- cilantro salad.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Tatania

                I love the idea of lentils and Italian sausage! Thanks a lot.

              2. try it with breakfast.