Bucatini with Sausage, Asparagus and Tomato in a White Wine Sauce

Last week we paid a visit to our local farmer’s market and we were pleasantly surprised to discover a man selling fresh sausage!  He seemed unfazed by the 95° temps and was happily browning up pieces of sausage on a tiny griddle and offering samples to potential customers.  We are not ones to pass up free sausage so we eagerly tasted some and it was amazing!  We promptly purchased a package of chicken provolone sausage and started brainstorming for potential summer meal ideas to highlight the local fare.

The recipe that Matt came up with definitely did the sausage justice.  The white wine sauce was flavorful without being overpowering (it actually smelled like “real” Italian cooking!) and the firm asparagus and super-tasty tomatoes (from our garden, of course!) complemented the sausage nicely.  This recipe made enough food for the two of us to eat dinner and then enjoy hearty portions for lunch the next day.

Oh, and before I get to the recipe, please remember to comment on my Tomato Salad post to win a free kitchen scale!

Bucatini with Sausage, Asparagus and Tomato in a White Wine Sauce

You will need…
1 bunch Asparagus, chopped into 2 inch pieces
Olive Oil
12 oz. Sausage (we used Maiale’s Chicken Sausage with Spinach and Sharp Provolone*)
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, minced
1 cup Dry White Wine
1/2 cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 tablespoons minced Chives
2 tablespoons Butter or Olive Oil Spread
Bucatini Pasta
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the chopped asparagus.  Blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes (or more if using thicker spears) and then use a slotted spoon to transfer the asparagus to an ice bath.  Allow asparagus to cool completely before straining and setting aside in a bowl.

The sauteing garlic and shallots smell wonderful!

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Remove the sausage from its casing and brown it in the oil, breaking it up as it cooks.  Remove the browned sausage from the wok and set aside.  Lower the heat to medium, add another tablespoon of olive oil and the minced garlic and shallots.  Saute until shallots are translucent.  Add the white wine and chicken broth, stir, and allow to simmer over low heat until mixture is reduced to approximately 1/3 the original volume.  As the sauce reduces cook the pasta according to package instructions.

Toss all of the ingredients together in the wok.

Add the sausage to the reduced white wine mixture, stir to combine, and bring the heat back up to medium.  Stir in the blanched asparagus, chives, and butter and add salt and pepper to taste.  Finally, add in the cooked and drained pasta and the cherry tomatoes and toss well.  Serve with a garnish of finely chopped chives.

*If you’re local to the southeastern PA / DE region, the delicious sausage was made by Maiale (“may.all.ay”) in Wilmington, Delaware.  We’ll definitely be going back to the farmer’s market next week to get more sausage!!  🙂

Bucatini with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

We have been on a quest for the perfect meatball recipe for several months and I think last weekend we finally found it!  Previously we had made gluten-free meatballs, turkey meatballs, and ground beef meatballs based on recipes we found on the internet.  All of these came out fine but were lacking the wow factor (and yes, now I know that there can be a wow factor when it comes to meatballs!).  Ironically, after all of that searching on the world wide web we found the perfect recipe within the pages of our very own Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe book.  Page 253, to be exact.

These meatballs were decadent and were so tender that they were almost creamy.  The combination of ground chuck and ground pork was way better than the turkey (duh) and standard ground beef that we tried in previous attempts and the tomato sauce was tasty and thick.

Bucatini with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

You will need:
For the meatballs…
2 slices White Bread, crust removed and slices torn into small pieces
6 tablespoons Plain Yogurt thinned with 2 tablespoons fat free Half and Half
3/4 pound Ground Chuck
1/4 pound Ground Pork
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (or Parmesan/Romano Blend)
2 tablespoon minced Parsley Leaves
1 Egg Yolk
1 Garlic Clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon Salt
Pepper, to taste
1 cup Canola Oil, for pan-frying

For the tomato sauce…
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced Basil Leaves
Salt and Pepper

1 pound Bucatini Pasta, cooked according to package instructions

Combine the bread and yogurt mixture in a small bowl.  Mash together with a fork and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until a paste forms.

Place the next eight ingredients (ground chuck through pepper) in a small bowl and add the bread-yogurt paste.  Mix together very gently (just as was the case with the guacamole-chipotle burgers, the lighter your touch, the more tender your end product will be!) and form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch diameter meatballs.  Press the meatballs together somewhat firmly to make sure they hold togethery during the cooking process. (Some of our very gently-formed meatballs fell apart but they were still delicious!)  You should end up with 10-14 meatballs.

Pan-Frying the Meatballs

Pour the canola oil into a large straight-sided skillet so that it is approximately 1/4″ deep.  Heat the pan over medium-high heat until the edge of a meatball browns if it is inserted into the oil.  Once the oil is hot enough, place the meatballs in the pan in a single layer.  Fry, turning several times, until the meatballs are evenly browned and slightly crispy on all sides (approx. 10 minutes).  Remove the meatballs from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels.  Set aside.

Meatballs warming up in the Tomato Sauce

Discard the oil in the skillet but retain any browned bits of meatball.  Add the olive oil and garlic and saute until garlic becomes golden, approx. 30 seconds.  Add the crushed tomatoes, stir, and simmer until sauce thickens, approx. 10 minutes.  Stir in the basil, salt and pepper, then carefully add the meatballs.  Stir gently to coat the meatballs and then allow to simmer for about 5 minutes to reheat meatballs.

Spoon several spoonfuls of the sauce over your cooked Bucatini and stir well to coat the pasta.  Serve the pasta and top with meatballs and sauce.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Meatballs