Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ziti with Sausage and Mushroom Ragu and Caramelized Balsamic Onions

We've done a good job over the last week at eating a different meal at home every day over the past week, and we've been eating fairly healthily as well. A ton of vegetables; completely vegetarian 12/14 meals. It meant many trips to the farmer's markets: 4 times in the last 7 days alone; fortunately there are different markets around town pretty much every day of the week and most of my favorite vendors are at several of them. The only meat we ate was wild salmon one night and this sausage ragu. We've gone a little too heavy on the carbs with pasta several nights, some pizza, and lots of toast with heirloom tomatoes but hopefully all the vegetables balanced it out at least partially. I got this ragu recipe from the fresh pasta making class at Sur La Table two weeks ago. I had to change some of the cooking temperatures and also added some mushrooms and only used chicken sausage, but its a decent ragu recipe. It's a pretty easy one pot ragu; in the past I used to saute most of the components separately and recombine later, and also used ingredients like chicken stock and milk, but this recipe was fairly simple. The caramelized balsamic onions add a nice savory element to the dish with a little refreshing acidity to liven the dish up. I wanted to use rigatoni, but Whole Foods was out of rigotoni (they've been out of so many items every time I've been in the last few weeks, it's been really annoying). It's definitely more of a wintery dish, but I wanted to make the recipe again before I forgot about it. The pasta went well with a simple Tuscan sangiovese (which I also used as the wine for the ragu).

Ziti with Sausage and Mushroom Ragu Recipe (adapted from Sur La Table). Serves 4
  • To prep, dice 2 carrots, 2 celery, 1 small onion and combine in a bowl. Thinly slice 2 onions and set aside. Clean 4 oz of mushrooms (I really like these organic Bunashimeji / Beech mushrooms that I've been buying from Marukai, also available at Co-op. They have a nice earthy flavor and texture more similar to wild mushrooms). Remove casings from 3 links of chicken sausage (about 3/4 lb total). 
  • In a Le Creuset 3 quart pot over medium heat with a couple of TB of olive oil, saute the carrots, celery, onion until soft and starting to brown, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (don't need to use too much salt because the sausage is pretty salty)
  • Add the mushrooms and saute for another 5-8 minutes until the mushrooms have released all their moisture and the moisture is gone
  • Add 1 TB of tomato paste to the vegetables and stir around for two minutes until it caramelized a bit
  • Add the chicken sausage and saute until mostly cooked through, about 8 minutes
  • Add 1/2 cup of red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits
  • Add 1 28 oz can of peeled tomatoes and their juices, crushing the tomatoes by hand. Add 1-2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour. Taste for seasoning
  • Meanwhile, in a separate pan, caramelize the sliced onions over medium low heat with a few TB of olive oil, stirring occasionally. Season with a little salt and pepper. Needs about 45 minutes to caramelize. When finished, add 1 TB of balsamic vinegar and remove from heat
  • Cook 1 lb of pasta in heavily salted boiling water until almost al dente. Add the pasta to the pot with the sauce to finish cooking, adding a little pasta water if necessary. Serve with balsamic vinegar on top.

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