This recipe is a true Gruggen family favorite. I cut it out of a magazine ad for an extra virgin olive oil (I think it was for Bertolli) sometime in the last century. And for the last 25+ years, I've been making this at least once a month. It's the dish my oldest son Sean requests every time his birthday rolls around.
I've been making it so long that the recipe is fully engrained in my brain. I was going to write down the steps last time I made it, but then I remembered I had started a notebook back in the late 80's and the recipe was captured therein.
Of the hundreds of recipes I've shared in this blog, this is the one I make the most. Why it has taken me nearly six years to finally share this one is bizarre. But better late than never. Once you try this recipe, I guarantee you will be back to make it again. The recipe serves six very hungry athletes.
The meal is quintessential northern Italian. Well-browned hot Italian sausage. Sweet roasted bell peppers. Fennel. Basil. Garlic. Turkish oregano. And penne cooked to a perfect al dente. Combine it all together and serve in individual bowls. And the coupe de grâce: a generous dusting of aged Parmigiana Reggiano. Buon appetito!
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
40 ounces of hot Italian sausage links
1 large yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 16-ounce jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped.
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon Turkish oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 pound penne pasta
Salt and pepper
Fresh grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
- Cut sausage links into roughly 1-inch pieces (leave casings intact). Heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sauté sausages in 2-3 batches in a large Dutch oven. The sausages should be well-browned. When sausages are done, place in a bowl and keep warm.
- Cut the onion from pole to pole. Then lay each half flat on a cutting board and slice into half-moon rings.
- Add half-moon onion rings to Dutch oven and sauté until onions are limp and translucent (about 5 minutes).
- Add chopped peppers and garlic to the onions in the Dutch oven. Stir for 2 minutes. Then add red pepper flakes, fennel, basil, oregano and thyme. Stir for 2 minutes, then cover and remove from heat.
- Boil a large pot of water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Follow instructions on the package to cook penne al dente (usually about 10 minutes).
- Five minutes before pasta is done, return Dutch oven to burner and add sausages. Raise heat to medium high and stir frequently to get everything hot again.
- When pasta is done cooking, drain pot and add the penne to the Dutch oven. Add 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to Dutch oven. Stir to combine ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve in individual pasta bowls and top each serving with freshly grated cheese.
Wine pairing: Brunello di Montalcino