This past weekend we attended the annual Easter Egg-citement at Eckert's Farm, just as we have the past two years. There were a couple differences this time, however. For one thing, it was freezing! Normally by the end of March, it's not too painful, but this past weekend it was in the 30s. I don't think it would have been quite so bad, had it not been for the wind. It was brutal! It didn't matter to the kids, though; they still had a blast. The other difference this year was that Evan is finally old enough to participate in the egg hunt! He had a lot of fun, not only with the hunt but also just running around and taking in the sights. He's definitely an outdoorsy baby! Just look at how happy he is outside on our deck.
Now, onto last night's dinner. This is one of the few recipes that I make repeatedly; most of the time I enjoy trying new ones. But this meal, from Giada De Laurentiis' cookbook Everyday Pasta, is worth making at least every couple of months. It's relatively simple to prepare, requires mostly inexpensive ingredients, and it's fabulous the next day as leftovers. Plus, it makes the house smell heavenly while it's simmering away on the stove!
Last night was the first time I actually made it with the Marsala wine that the recipe calls for. I have to say, it really did make a difference to me. Previously I had simply used chicken broth to deglaze the pan after cooking the veggies, but I thought I'd go all out this time and splurge on the bottle of Marsala. After all, it will give me an excuse to use it in other dishes. In this meal, the wine added a deeper, almost fruity flavor, and it blended surprisingly well with the tartness of the tomato paste. I recommend letting the sauce/sausage mixture simmer for at least the suggested 20 minutes, if not a half hour or more. This meal definitely benefits from a longer stay on the stovetop before hitting your plate.
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb. sweet Italian turkey sausages
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, sliced
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup Marsala wine
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice (I pureed mine a bit)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional, but we added it in)
1 lb. farfalle pasta (Giada's recipe calls for rigatoni)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove sausages from the pan.
2. Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the other 1 Tbsp. oil. Add bell peppers, onion, salt, and pepper and cook until golden, 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and basil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until incorporated, then add the Marsala wine. Allow the wine to cook out a bit, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spoon to release the brown bits. After a minute or so, add the tomatoes with their juide, and the (optional) red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer.
3. Cut the sausages into 6-8 slices each, then return them to the pan. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened, at least 20 minutes (30-40 would be even better).
4. While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the farfalle and cook according to the package directions. Drain pasta and add to the thickened sauce; toss to combine. Spoon into shallow bowls and sprinkle servings with Parmesan cheese.