TASTE of Olney
Danny melded his favorite flavors into a simple yet robust pasta dish this week that reflects the culinary history of Italy in one dish. Each of these ingredients has a fascinating backstory, and when combined, they create a harmonious dish that will become a classic at your table.
“I love pasta with texture and the little shells have great texture when they are cooked al dente. I love italian sausage and red pepper flakes and greens so it’s the perfect dish for me,” Danny said. “I eat pasta with olive oil and greens all the time and I decided to throw a little Italian sausage in for protein. This doesn’t have sauce - it’s down to the bare necessities.”
Pasta, the foundational element of this dish, has been a staple in Italy for centuries. Its origins trace back to ancient civilizations such as the Etruscans and the Greeks, who made simple pasta from durum wheat and water.
Olive oil, another key ingredient in this dish, has a history intertwined with that of pasta. Olive trees have been cultivated in the Mediterranean for thousands of years, and the extraction of olive oil was an essential part of ancient culinary traditions. In Italy, the use of high-quality extra virgin olive oil is paramount in enhancing the flavors of pasta dishes.
Italian sausage has roots in Italy’s long tradition of preserving and seasoning meat, and different regions of Italy have their own unique sausage varieties, from the spicy Calabrian ‘nduja to the fennel-infused Tuscan salsiccia.
Greens, such as spinach or kale, add a healthy and fresh component to the dish. These vegetables have been consumed in Italy for centuries, either foraged from the countryside or grown in kitchen gardens.
Parmesan cheese, a finishing touch, has a storied history of its own.
Parmigiano-Reggiano, known as the “king of cheeses,” has been produced in the Emilia-Romagna region for over 800 years. Its distinctive nutty flavor and crumbly texture have made it a coveted ingredient to top pasta dishes, providing a burst of umami and a creamy, salty contrast to the other elements.
As always, all ingredients are available at Stewart’s Food Store.
3 tablespoons olive oil 3 or 4 cloves of garlic 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes (add more for extra heat and flavor) 1 pkg of Johnsonville Italian Sausage links (19 oz) 1 lb of dry small pasta shells 2 bunches of spinach or favorite greens ¾ cup of BelGioioso freshly grated Parmesan ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Step 1: Prepare pasta according to package Step 2: Add greens to a pot of boiling water for one minute. Immediately drain and submerge in an ice bath.
Step 3: Warm olive oil over medium heat, smash garlic w/ side of knife and cook 2 minutes or until garlic just begins to brown.
Step 4: Add pepper flakes and broken sausage links after discarding the casing. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup of pasta water. Add pasta to pot with meat and stir together. Stir greens into pan then add Parmesan chees. Mix well. Top with chopped parsley, if using.
For more sauce, add small amounts of the pasta water until you achieve the consistency you prefer. For thicker sauce, add more Parmesan.