Wednesday, February 22, 2012


We just got back from a long weekend in Montreal, which was outstanding as always. I'm mulling a post on our food adventures there, or just a few thoughts on what is quickly becoming my favourite city. But until I decide on that, here's yet another quick pasta dish for your dinner tonight (I have a lot of these, don't I?).

This is a pretty basic tomato sauce; as such it's imperative to use the best ingredients you can get your hands on. I splurged on some tinned San Marazano tomatoes and found it made a huge difference. Use a good quality sausage as well: nothing too fatty or gristly. If by some miracle you can find a bunch of non-sickly fresh basil here in the depths of February, chop a bunch of its leaves and scatter them on at the end.

Pasta with Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce & Hot Italian Sausage
Adapted from Marcella Cucina by way of Alexandra Cooks

1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups finely chopped white or yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup white wine
1 28-oz can of peeled whole tomatoes, crushed
A pinch of crushed chili flakes
kosher salt
½ - ¾ lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 to 3/4 lb. pasta
½ cup freshly grated Grana Padano to taste

In a large skillet heat a bit of oil, crumble sausage and cook until brown and crispy. Remove to a paper towel-line bowl.

Drain excess fat and deglaze pan with some water and discard.

Heat remaining oil, then add the onions and sweat on medium until transluscent and starting to soften.

Add the garlic and cook just a few seconds until fragrant.

Add the parsley, stir once or twice, and then add the wine. Simmer for a couple of minutes until the alcohol smell dissipates and it’s reduced by about half.

Add the tomatoes, the crushed chili flakes and a generous pinch of salt, and simmer about 20 minutes.

While this is happening, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook your pasta (I’d suggest orecchiette or penne) to al dente and drain.

Stir sausage into sauce to warm it up, Place pasta in a large serving bowl. Toss with sauce to coat. Sprinkle on basil and cheese.

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