For Rachel, my dinner break buddy: Sara's Pasta

You know how you dish up pasta and the next thing you know you look at your plate and swear your helping expanded?  So that's just how the pasta I packed for my dinner break looked earlier this week.  This was good news for adorable Rachel, one of my lulu co-workers and that night's dinner break dining company.  Probably 90% of the team could be my children and I'm always happy to feed them!  As it happened Rachel loved it and asked for the recipe.  I am miffed with the lack of search capability in the new blogger template.  If you use the flipcard view it will load all 148 of my posts fairly quickly and supposedly that allows the search engine to search all of my posts.  It's my blog and I still couldn't find the recipe for Sara's pasta that surely exists somewhere in here.  Not my week to find things.

So I'm going from memory without pictures, but this makes a really creamy sauce that's actually pretty sound nutritionally (as long as you can exercise some portion control).  The key to the creamy sauce:  saute your vegetables in some olive oil (2 T or a bit less), add in your meat and then stir in 2-3 T of flour and cook and stir so the flour picks up the savory flavors.  Then stir in fat-free half and half (that seems like an oxymoron doesn't it?) or just skim milk and cook and stir on medium high heat until thickened.  Super easy.  Always reserve a cup or two of the pasta water before you drain it.  Adding hot pasta water into the sauce helps give it body and creaminess.  Use seasonal vegetables.  In the spring I toss in asparagus.  In the summer, zucchini gets the nod.  This is a good base recipe, go ahead and get a little creative.  Sun-dried tomatoes are good in this dish, just cut the basil and oregano in half if using the sun-dried tomatoes in oil with herbs (drain off some of the oil before adding).

Here you go, Rachel.  This pasta is named after my Sara because we tweaked and tweaked to come up with a favorite, but you can name it whatever you like.

1 16-oz. package hot Italian turkey sausage or bulk hot Italian turkey sausage
1 bunch of broccoli
1/2 pound pasta (linguine is good, but medium shapes work well too:  penne, fusilli, bow ties, etc)
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped in coins (I had baby carrots and cut them in coins)
8 oz. mini bella mushrooms, sliced (white mushrooms are good too)
1 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 T flour
1 1/2 C fat free half and half or skim milk
4 oz. shaved Parmesan

Heat a little olive oil in your saute pan over medium heat.  Squeeze the hot Italian sausage out of it's casing (if you can't find bulk, use the sausages) right into pan.  Break up sausage with spatula as you brown it.  Lay 3-4 sheets of paper towel on a plate and scoop out browned sausage onto towel-lined plate to drain.

Bring a large pot of water to boil with 1 T of kosher salt added.  Drop broccoli into boiling water and blanche for about 3 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander to drain, leaving the pasta water boiling.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions (start cooking vegetables and etc. below while pasta is boiling).  RESERVE at least ONE UP OF PASTA WATER before draining.

Wipe saute pan and add another tablespoon of olive oil and return to medium heat.  Saute onion, red pepper and carrots until softened (about 5-6 minutes).    Add the mushrooms and cook another 3 minutes or so.  Add garlic, basil, oregano and black pepper and cook stirring for a minute.  Add back in the sausage and drained broccoli along with the flour and stir to mix flavors and distribute the flour.  Increase heat a bit to the high end of medium-high and add the half and half, stirring constantly to thicken.  Add reserved hot pasta water a ladle at a time until sauce is desired consistency.  Stir in about 2 oz. of the  Parmesan until melted.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve with additional Parmesan.


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