Whew! What a whirlwind weekend! On Friday I headed back to the Land of Lincoln, and later that night I ventured into the terrifying abyss – the city of Chicago.
Dunh dunh dunh.
Chicagoland traffic on a Friday afternoon is path fraught with terror straight out of a tale by the Brothers Grimm. A trip that normally requires 40 minutes took me three times as long, thanks to accidents, road construction, and the half-million people who feel that a much better time awaits in the big city instead of their quiet backyard aviaries in the suburbs.
In my case however, more fun truly did await in the Windy City after the two hour commute thanks to this form of highbrow entertainment.
I trekked to the city to see Little Miss, her parents, and many of Mr. Musky’s cousins who flew in for a family wedding. My sister-in-law asked me to make a salad, and unsurprisingly, I used the Roasted Candied Tomatoes I dished about last week atop a bed of chopped romaine. I topped the concoction with some pine nuts (untoasted, because I was in a hurry to play with a baby and all) and some bottled caesar dressing. A smattering of goat cheese and some fresh corn off the cob brought some zip and additional texture to the party. As a result, please PLEASE make the Roasted Candied Tomatoes, people! I could eat them all day solo, but that salad SANG with those little gems on top. My SIL called my salad “gourmet.”
It’s the only additional reason you need to make them. Gluten free baby penne pasta, fennel, mildly spicy sausage, parmesan, wine (duh), garlic, and fresh herbs already sound like a winning line-up. But throw in some of those tomatoes extraordinaire and your pasta making skills just leapt to olympic gold medal status.
I can gauge the success of a dish proportionally by the amount of leftovers. I walked back to the pan to scoop out two more little bites of this, and alas. It was ALL GONE!
I know cooking something for two to three hours sounds like a chore to many of you, but if you want to achieve “gourmet” status, then slow bake some tomatoes. They taste so fancy and unique they’ll make anything you put them in feel over the top. Even a simple pasta!
- 3T butter, divided
- 12 oz gluten free penne pasta (I used quinoa pasta for this and it was a big hit)
- 1 lb good quality Italian sausage
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- ½ fennel bulb (core removed, chopped)
- 4 roasted candied tomatoes (eight halves), chopped (can use sun-dried tomatoes as well)
- 2 additional roasted candied tomatoes (four halves), left in tact for serving atop the final pasta dish
- ½ cup dry white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- zest of one small lemon
- 1 t chopped fresh oregano
- 1 t chopped fresh parsley
- 3-4 extra roasted tomato halves
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add plenty of salt, and cook the pasta according to package directions, ensuing the final product is al dente.
- While the pasta water comes to a boil, prepare the remaining ingredients. Melt 1T of butter in a pan and add the sausage. Break it up and brown it, cooking over medium heat, for 5-7 minutes.
- Add the onion and garlic. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
- Add the fennel, stirring to combine. Cook for two minutes.
- Add the chopped roasted tomatoes, wine, salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
- Add the pasta, 2T butter, lemon zest, oregano, parsley and cheese and toss to combine. Top with the whole tomato halves and more cheese and serve immediately.