Cooking and posting pasta twice in quick succession will tell you two things, one that I am pressed for time and secondly that I am craving comfort food. My husband though is almost reaching the end of his pasta meter, he is good with pasta about once a week more than that he starts thinking he is a neglected spouse. This pasta recipe is one of my comfort stock recipes that I like to call Emily’s Red Wine and Sweet Sausage Pasta. Of course, given how many variations I have had of the recipe, chances are today it is more of a Rinku’s Red Wine and Sweet Sausage Pasta. To be fair, like most of the recipes that I attribute to people, this is something that I saw being made rather than actually recieved a recipe for, but even from my memory over the year’s I have fussed and strayed. Swapped the butter for more olive oil, added some more vegetables, generally, I think you get the picture.
To tell you about Emily, I have to tell you about my uncle. He was my third uncle, or my grandmother’s third son, my father being her fourth. I am often likened to him by family and they call me a prodigal like him. I shall tell you my story some other day, today let us stick to my uncle. He was the first of our family to venture overseas, he went to England for a medical degree and came back to India with both the degree and an English wife much to my conservative grandmother’s shock. Well, just as she was begining to make her peace with the foreign daughter-in-law they decided to leave for the new world – America.
This sort of put me out of touch with them, until I later moved to come and study here. I got quite attached to them and did marvel at their courage in forging their own identity. They lived happily together for 33 year, with a love all the more stronger for surving the odds. However, after this my aunt died unexpectedly from cancer. This was painful and heartbreaking for my uncle and not really something that he could recover from.
Left with a broken heart, he retreated to his own vacuum and eventually died himself three years laters. I did visit them and later him, frequently, his large and peaceful home in small town Ohio, offered me a taste of home and solace when I needed it the most.
Somehow, in these last rather reclusive years, he managed to befriend Emily and her quite gentle friendship helped him with his sadness. I do not know where she is today, but somewhere I often say a silent prayer for her and thank her for keep my uncle company when he needed it.
One of my visits, Emily had invited me for dinner and was making pasta, at that time my kitchen and pantry was rather sparse and uninitiated so I was amazed and intrigued at her use of ingredients like foreign pasta, olive oil and red wine in cooking. Well, these today have become such staples that this pasta dish as become one of my summer fixes in late summer, when the tomatoes are still in their bounty and the herbs are plentiful and as for the red wine, that too is free flowing in all seasons.
Depending on the pantry, I have added bell peppers to this sauce as well, I used to add tomato paste to it at one point of time, I have now given that up in favor of cooking it a little longer.
A well seasoned thick and chunky pasta sauce, that makes a hearty and satisfying dinner.
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 pods garlic, pressed
- 1 red or white onion, finely diced
- 6 ripe red tomatoes, cut into a dice
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaved, miced
- 3/4 cup of red wine
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 pound of sweet fennel sausage cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup ground lamb (optional, but helps in the thickness and flavor)
- 1 zucchini, cut into a small dice
- 21/2 cups of prepared al dente pasta, I like radiatore
- Salt to taste
- 1. Heat the oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan for about 1 minute, add in the garlic and cook until it is pale golden and add in the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until it is soft and transluscent.
- 2. Add in the tomatoes, oregano and thyme leaves and cook on medium low heat until the tomatoes reach a soft, gentle simmer.
- 3. Continue cooking the tomatoes for 10 minutes, stirring and breaking the tomatoes with the back of the spoon to form a thicker sauce.
- 4. Gradually add in 1/3 of the wine and the sugar and red pepper flakes.
- 5. Stir in the sweet fennel sausage and ground lamb and continue simmer the sauce for 20 more minutes.
- 6. Add in the zucchini and simmer for 10 minutes, stir in salt as needed and mix in the pasta and serve.