Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Sausage Pepper Penne

Sausage Pepper Penne - an easy weeknight dinner - via thepajamachef.com

So last week was just one of those weeks. I was sick and we just didn’t eat off our meal plan as I like to do. By the time Friday came around, I was feeling a little better physically but I just wasn’t feeling up to eating something rich and cheesy like a calzone for dinner. However, we had plans to run a local 5K the next morning so I wanted something light, healthy, and filling. This dish I threw together in a few minutes did just the trick! It is definitely one I will be making again, unlike some of my past pasta creations which were just so-so.

This penne pasta dish had just the right combination of savory sausage, flavorful veggies, and complimentary seasonings. I loved how the sweetness of the honey was just barely noticeable but made it’s presence known. However, my favorite part of this dish was the sundried tomatoes. They really added a lot to the pasta–a little saltiness, a little tang, and a dash of tomato flavor to really bring the sauce together… so don’t skimp on them! I bet fresh tomatoes and a little tomato paste would be delicious too, and would give the dish a slightly different flavor palate.

Sausage Pepper Penne - an easy weeknight dinner - via thepajamachef.com
Penne in my pretty bowl!

Sausage Pepper Penne

  • Servings: 3-4
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by me 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 gigantic clove garlic, minced [or 2 smaller cloves]
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 2 Italian turkey sausages, chopped [I used 1 sweet and 1 spicy, and mine were not precooked but you probably could substitute if that’s what you had on hand.]
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature penne pasta (uncooked)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • salt
  • olive oil

Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat a dash of olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes until they are just beginning to brown and soften. Then add green pepper to the pan and cook for another two to three minutes until the green pepper is just beginning to soften. Turn heat down to medium and add chopped sausage into the pan. Let cook until sausage has browned, stirring every so often.

Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a large stock pot for your pasta. [Be sure to check out Lynne’s Kitchen Adventures for tips on the perfect way to cook pasta. It sounds elementary but it is not at all!]

Meanwhile, add sundried tomatoes to sausage mixture. Cover and simmer on low while pasta cooks. Cook pasta to al dente. Before draining pasta, reserve 1 cup of pasta water to thin out sauce if necessary. Drain and add penne to saucepan with sausage mixture. Stir in honey and mustard, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add up to 1 cup pasta water to thin out sauce–I used about 1/3 cup. Toss to combine and serve. Eat and enjoy!

Notes:

This recipe yields about 3-4 servings. Ben had one large helping and a smaller helping, I had a medium-sized serving, and there was some leftover for lunch yesterday… so be sure to keep that in mind and alter to fit your needs.

Have you ever made an improv recipe that ended up being a favorite? If so, tell me about it!

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Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes

(Not So) Authentic Jambalaya?

I met my husband when we were both interns for Campus Crusade for Christ at Ohio University. We started dating in February 2008, and one of the first meals I found out that he loved was jambalaya. Problem was though that Ben liked a recipe made by a husband and wife who are really great cooks. So naturally, I was intimidated to make jambalaya for him. I didn’t want to fail, and I didn’t even really have a good recipe. The only other time I had had it was on a mission trip nine years ago in New Orleans, and that jambalaya was excellent! [In retrospect, I could have asked for the “good” recipe… but I make things complicated, so I didn’t. :)]

Fast forward to the present day. I finally got over my fear of not living up to his expectations, and made jambalaya. It may be authentic, it may be not-so-authentic. However, it was well received and tasty, so that’s all that counts, right?!?

Not So Authentic Jambalaya... but still delicious! thepajamachef.com
The finished product in all its glory!

 

Benny eating jambalaya.
Eating is serious business, apparently.
Benny waving
Taking a break to say hello!

Without further ado…

(Not So) Authentic Jambalaya?

  • Servings: 8
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à la Eat, Live, Run

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 3 Italian sausages [I used turkey sausage–2 sweet & 1 spicy], cooked & chopped
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup brown jasmine rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 c yellow squash, chopped <– This added such a great summery flavor and crunch to the dish.
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon double concentrated tomato paste <—I love this stuff!!! It’s so worth the price, and sometimes Kroger has it on sale. Score!

Directions:

In a large, deep pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and then add flour, stirring constantly to make a roux. Add the onions, squash, garlic, and parsley and toss to coat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until the onions are soft. Add water, tomatoes [diced and paste], rice, pepper, and chili powder and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for one hour or until rice is cooked. Add chicken and sausage and heat thoroughly.

Notes:

The original recipe called for andouille sausage, celery, cayenne pepper, and long grain brown rice; I substituted a chicken/Italian sausage mixture, squash, chili powder, and brown jasmine rice because its what I had on hand. I also had to cook it a lot longer than the recipe called for, likely because I added additional rice and meat to satisfy my husband’s palate. 🙂 All in all, I ended up adding approximately an extra 1/2 cup of water and 20-30 minutes of cook time for the rice to fully cook. But boy, was it worth it! 😉 Oh, and this makes a ton. So be ready to eat, serve a crowd, or freeze some leftovers.

Not So Authentic Jambalaya... but still delicious! thepajamachef.com
Sausage + Chicken + Rice + Tomatoes + Squash = Delicious