Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cheap Bastid Sausage, Pasta & 10 Minute Sauce

If you ever get a chance to watch a cooking show on TV called “Sam the Cooking Guy”, it’s well worth it. Sam Zien is an amateur cook in San Diego who has generated a following over the last several years. He has his own local show, has had one on Discovery Health and has had numerous appearances on the Today show as well.

Sam specializes in cooking simple, minimalist dishes which provide incredible, gourmet flavor but which use common ingredients that you can find in most pantries or fridges. I’ve got a copy of his cookbook, “Just a Bunch of Recipes” and enjoy it. You can also find his stuff on thecookingguy.com.

Today’s Cheap Bastid offering is a variation on something from Sam. He has a simple dish, Italian sausage with peppers and onions which I have taken to the next step. I add some tomato, garlic and spices and then serve it over either spaghetti or cheese grits. Today I’m going to do it with spaghetti.

What I really like about it is that this is a great, 10 minutes spaghetti sauce that has great flavor but without the heaviness of traditional sauce which makes it terrific during the summer. So here goes:

Cheap Bastid’s Sausage, Pasta & 10 Minute Sauce

4 Italian sausages (sweet or spicy—most “spicy” ones aren’t that hot so I add chili flakes to the mix)
3-4 Roma tomatoes
2 cups1 bell pepper--red, green, yellow (cut into 1 ½” strips)
1 cup of onion in strips (cut in strips)
1-2 cloves garlic (to taste)
¼ cup wine or sherry
Chili flakes
1 lb spaghetti or fettucine

Prep: Cut sausages into 2 inch hunks (note: I like to cut in half lengthwise too—it makes for more “bites” of sausage). Cut peppers & onion into strips and chop the tomatoes. Garlic too if you’re using whole (Cheap Bastid uses chopped garlic in the jar from Gilroy).

Cooking: Get out large skillet and pot for pasta. Heat skillet over medium high and toss in the sausage. Turn heat down just a skosh. Brown the sausage. Put about a half gallon of water in your spaghetti pot and put it on to boil. When cooked remove sausage with slotted spoon reserving the fat.

Salt the spaghetti water and add the pasta. Turn that down just a skosh too. Reheat skillet over medium and put in peppers, onion and garlic. If needed add a tablespoon of cooking oil (canola or olive).

Saute the veggies for 2-3 minutes just until they start to soften then add the tomatoes, salt & pepper, chili flakes and basil. When tomatoes soften put the sausage back in and taste the concoction. Adjust seasonings if needed. Turn heat down to low.

As soon as the pasta is al dente remove it from the heat and drain. Add about a tablespoon of oil to the finished pasta and then put the pasta in the skillet with the sausage and sauce. Mix everything together and serve. (Or you can keep the pasta and sauce separate for individual servings if you want).

This is a nice, tasty, light summery pasta dish. The sauce doesn’t get “heavy”, that’s what I really like about it. It’s all fresh and can be cooked in just a few minutes.

Cheap Bastid Test: How’d this do with a budget? Well, 4 Italian sausages are about a pound and I buy it for $2.29 a pound. The tomatoes are about a pound and they’re $.77 a pound. The peppers cost about $1 and the onion about $.25. Barilla pasta was on special for $1. So, the total for a dinner for 4 or dinner for 2 and lunch for 3 was $5.24. Add a nice salad to this and maybe some garlic toast and you’ve got a feast for about another buck. That’s pretty good! How much would this be at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Olive Garden or Bucca de Beppa? About $12 to $15 per person?

That’s the Cheap Bastid way! Eat good. Eat cheap. Be grateful.

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