Ice and I like to have homemade dinners during the week. If I'm realistic, we cook 4 out of 7 nights per week. I get home earlier, so it's usually me in the kitchen in the evenings. I love it though' I find cooking to be very therapeutic. There is a sense of accomplishment in feeling like you created something, even if the product disappears in five minutes due to hungry eaters at the table!
I have a few staples in the rotation every week. Mostly they consist of easy to prep, quick to cook, painless to serve meals. One of my favorites of these is Sausage, Onions and Peppers. No matter what, this meal is satisfying. I have seen the meal prepared in many different ways, but we have found one that satisfies us every time.
Below are the ingredients I use. I always cook enough for leftovers to bring for lunch the next day or to have for dinner the following night. I also enjoy playing with color in the food. I swear it makes the food taste better if it looks pretty!
- 4 peppers (1 green, 1 yellow, 1 orange, 1 red)
- 1 large Spanish onion
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
- 1 lb hot Italian sausage (optional, you can use 2 lb sweet Italian sausage if you don't want the heat)
- 2 giant Tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 Tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup good white balsamic vinegar to taste
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh or from the little yellow bottle they sell in the grocery store)
- 2 cups Ronzoni's penne rigate
- grated parmigiana cheese to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Slice the onion and peppers to about 2-3 inches in length. They should be about the same size so they cook evenly.
Step 2: Heat an everyday/all-purpose pan with the 2 Tbsp olive oil. Wait 1-2 minutes, and throw the onions into the pan. Sauté with salt and pepper. Add the chopped garlic. When the onions look wilted and clear, add the peppers. The peppers take longer to soften up, 10-15 minutes, sometimes longer. Add more salt and pepper if you'd like.
Step 3: Cut up all of the sausage into bite size pieces. If the sausage is fat, I cut it length-wise first and then width wise. The more pieces of sausage you have in the pan, the further the dish lasts you during the week. Additionally, you don't over eat, which is a problem we are working on in our home.
Step 4: When you see the peppers are about half way done, toss the sausage in the pan. The sausage cooks quickly, especially if the pieces are small. At this point, I add the white balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. The sausage seems to pick up the flavor nicely. It gives the food a little kick, one that makes the meal fresh and delicious.
Step 5: Cover the pan, and let everything simmer about 20 minutes. Check every 5-6 minutes to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Give the meat and veggies a solid stir each time you check to make sure all is cooking evenly!
Step 6: While you are waiting for the sausage, onions, and peppers to be done, boil the penne rigate in salt water for 11 minutes.
Set the table while you wait. I like to use laminated placemats (easy to clean), a napkin on the left, with a fork on top.
Step 7: Serve a 1/2 cup of pasta with about 1 cup of the sausage, onions, and peppers in a good size bowl. Sprinkle 1 tsp of parmigiana cheese.