Last week, my fab friend Lindsey and I discovered a sweet little Italian restaurant called La Carbonara. A tiny restaurant with exposed brick and illuminated by candles, La Carbonara serves up delicious Italian fare with a modern twist. In addition to a bottle of Montepulciano (an Italian red wine, which at $25 a pop is a major steal for any Manhattan restaurant), I dined on orecchiette with broccoli rabe, sweet Italian sausage and cherry tomatoes, the latter of which quite honestly, I can't seem to get out of my head. At a sweet $9.95, this dish had all the right flavor moves and was served in a manageable portion - something virtually unheard of in an Italian restaurant. So with the orecchiette in my head for the last week, I decided to recreate it in my very own tiny kitchen. And I have to tell you, with some subtle substitutions to fit my own culinary parameters, I think it came pretty darn close to the original. Oh, and did I mention that it's healthy to boot? Full of fresh veggies and turkey sausage, this dish is destined to make my weekly repetoire. Check it out...
Pasta with Turkey Sausage & White Wine Reduction
1 box pasta of your choice (I couldn't find orecchiette, so I went with penne)
1 lb. turkey sausage, removed from casings
1 pkg grape tomatoes
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1C white wine (I used a cheap-o Pinot Grigio)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Cook pasta according to box directions. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skillet and add tomatoes which have been sliced in half. Add garlic and kosher salt, sauteeing until soft and they start to smell heavenly.
When desired heavenlyness is reached, remove from the pan and set aside. In that very same skillet, you'll cook the sausage. Remove the sausage from their casings (this is easily done by cutting a slit down the center of each one and removing the skin by hand...it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it...oh, and wash your hands after this part) and add to the skillet which should still be hot. Let's face it, turkey sausage just doesn't have the same flavor as the real thang, which is why you should get the pan super hot with some olive oil before adding the sausage. Resist the urge to break it up immediately as you want to let it brown a bit. This will provide some great, and necessary flavor. Once it starts to brown on the bottom, you can start breaking it up and turning it over until all browned. Now comes the fancy schmancy reduction part. Remove sausage from pan. Deglaze said pan with 1 C white wine, scraping up the brown bits from the tomatoes and sausage as you go. Oh, and the beauty of cooking with wine? The chef gets to sample along the way (for research purposes, of course). Bring to a boil and reduce by half (that's the reduction!). Add turkey and tomatoes back in and sprinkle generously with parmesean cheese. Add spinach and stir until it wilts.
And it looks like this...
Serve over pasta and prepare to be hooked.
So that's how I recreated a fabulous restaurant dish in my very own apartment kitch. Have you ever tried to recreate a restaurant dish at home? How did it turn out?
Psst...I did in fact make another turkey sausage pasta dish, which you can find right here...but I must be honest and tell you that this newer one really hit it out of the park! For a variation, check out the old one.