Thursday, July 17, 2014

Spicy Sausage Asparagus Pasta

Our dinners have been Farm Fresh lately! We are loving all the amazing produce that is popping up at Farmers Markets, neighborhood gardens and in my own back yard! In addition, this is the first year that I have been able to maintain a nice herb garden. I love that I can walk five steps and cut basil or lavender fresh from the stalk. 

After a successful trip to the Farmers Market a few weeks ago, I was determined to come up with a recipe that used everything in my basket, including arugula flowers which was a new item for me. Arugula flowers are my new favorite gem from the Market! they are cream colored with a purple vein running through the pedals. The edible flower is nutty and peppery, just like arugula leaves. They are very perishable though, so buy them and use them up fast. 

Another new item in the basket was a spicy pork sausage with sage from Fickle Creek Farms. This vendor is a must-stop now after trying their organic chickens....yum! I found asparagus, peppers, onions, arugula (with the flowers) and even a fresh pasta vendor. After 20 minutes in the market, dinner was planned!

Since most of you don't live in my area, you can use any type of sausage. Jimmy Dean's makes a Natural Sage Sausage that is a good alternative if you can't find any at your local Farmers Market. Asparagus season is pretty much over too, so broccoli or zucchini is a great substitution for this here. 

Spicy Sausage Asparagus Pasta

Yields: 4 servings

1 pound sausage (we used Fickle Creek Farms Spicy Pork Sausage with sage)
1 pound asparagus, *cooked, chopped (or other vegetable)
3 red bell peppers, quartered and de-seeded (or use 1 jar of roasted red peppers)
1 small red onion, diced
8 ounces elbow pasta (we used TruRoots gluten free)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups fresh arugula
Arugula flowers for garnish
Parmesan cheese, shredded

If making the peppers, Preheat the broiler to high and move the rack to the highest setting in the oven. Place the quartered red peppers on a greased cookie sheet and broil until the skin of the peppers are very charred. Quickly remove the peppers and place in a brown paper bag and seal. Set this aside for 15-20 minutes. Once the peppers have rested in the bag and are cool enough to touch, peel the skin off the peppers, roughly chop and set aside.

*Cook the asparagus (or other vegetable), there are few options here:
  1. Roast the asparagus in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes
  2. Steam the asparagus in a steamer (stove top or microwave steamer)
  3. Boil the asparagus with the pasta, but this might increase the asparagus flavor intensely.
While the peppers are roasting/sitting, cook the pasta according to instructions. Drain and set aside.

In a large saute pan, cook the sausage, breaking it into small chunks. Remove the sausage, reserving about 1 Tablespoon of the grease in the pan. Add in the onions and cook for about 5-7 minutes until slightly translucent. Stir in the cooked asparagus, sausage, arugula, peppers and 4 Tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer all this to a large bowl (to stop the cooking) and mix gently until combined. Serve with Arugula flower garnishes (if you can find them) and Parmesan cheese.

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