Saturday, January 30, 2010

Home Alone Husband Penne

My mom once told me this old Chinese story about a wife that left on some trip away from home and baked a big cookie to tie around her husband's neck so he wouldn't starve while she was gone. She came home to find him dead anyways - starved to death. The cookie was half eaten but only to top part that he could reach. He never flipped the cookie around to eat the bottom side.

Last weekend I took my mom to Vegas. The trip only lasted 3 days but in those short days, if left to his own vices, I may have found my own hubby dead of starvation. Or at least severely emaciated and malnourished. He would have been forced to consume what's left of the stale saltines, sniff out the hidden Oreos in the back of the cupboard or gnaw off his own arm.

Ok, I kid. Maybe not that last one, but there certainly would've been more than one trip to those famous golden arches. It's certainly not that Gabe can't feed himself, he just doesn't make very healthy choices. This pasta is good for fooling him into thinking he's eating some 'man food'. Joke's on him, there's tons of zucchini and whole wheat pasta in it.

We came home a few days later and..........he was still alive! Perfectly well fed with several balanced meals. He even made himself a little salad.

No he didn't. Salads = immediate loss of man cards.

No matter. He's alive. That's all that matters.

Love you, Boo.

Home Alone Husband Penne

Serves 6-8

3 zucchini, large
1 onion, large
4 garlic cloves
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, bulk* 1 lb. fresh mozzarella
1 32 oz. jar marinara sauce
1/2 c. grated hard cheese (parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano)
1 lb. box penne pasta (or any other short cut pasta)

* If you don't have Italian sausage, be crafty & make your own:

1 lb. pork shoulder
1 tsp. fennel seed
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake, optional
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven 350ºF. Start some water boiling for the pasta and preheat another large heavy bottom pot on high to saute veggies and brown sausage.

Now, let's start paring the veggies. I use a large dice on both the onion and zucchini:

Put about 3 tbsp. oil into the bottom of the pan. When it starts to ripple, get the onions in the pot and turn the heat down to sweat the onions. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Chop garlic.

When onions are nice and translucent, toss in zucchini and garlic.

I didn't happen to have the sausage on hand so I just ground some pork shoulder up in the food processor and added some spices.
If that's the route you're going, cube up the pork and pulse in the food processor until it's ground up.

Season w/ some salt & pepper.

What makes sausage taste like sausage..fennel seeds!

After the veggies cook down and look like this:

Put them aside on a plate:
Using the same pan on the same heat, put about 2 tbsp. light oil (I use canola) in the bottom and toss in the ground pork.

Now, don't crucify me - I didn't have any paprika. But if I did, I'd add it in here. I put some oregano and steak seasoning in instead. Just for fun. Gabe can't tell when things taste crazy.

Keep it stirring.
Water should be boiling at this point. Throw in a handful of salt.
Add in your pasta and boil a few minutes shy of whatever it says on the box.
You don't want the Sausage going too far so turn the heat down when the sausage is almost all the way cooked.
Cut your mozzarella into large 1" cubes. Boys LOVE this.
Rolling boil, good good.
Dump pasta, good good.
Dump the onion/zucchini mixture back in.
If you have your own marinara, you're an overachiever. I use my favorite jarred:
Pecorino Romano:
Dump the sauce in the pot.
Add in the chunks of mozzarella:
Use a spider and add in the pasta directly into the sauce..
Mixy mixy.
Stand back and admire. Try not to drool in the pot.
Transfer to a 9 x 13" pan.
Sprinkle w/ cheeeeese!
Bake at 350ºF for about 30 minutes.
Ooey gooey mozzarella.

Those big chunks of cheese really make it.

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