Saturday, January 11, 2014

Italian Sausage Meal Planning

I got some beautiful fresh Italian homemade sausage Thursday from Fareways and was trying to decide what to do with it.  I got 2 pounds and finally decided to make several meals with it and eat on it all week (as my mother says) by fixing  soup and a pasta casserole.  I like Italian sausage as much as I do steak.  The kitchen also smells so good.  I’ll be benefiting in many ways.  

I first cooked up the sausage with a little olive oil to fry it.  I then added a little Kosher salt and pepper.  Using my little food processor, I chopped up a small yellow onion and added a heaping teaspoon of pre-chopped garlic from the jar until it was almost a puree.  I added the pureed onion and garlic to the sausage as it was browning. 

After it was browned I put it in a colander and drained off as much of the grease as possible.  You’ll want some grease for flavor though.

Italian Sausage Potato Soup

1 pound of browned Italian sausage mixture
Small red potatoes
1 quart of chicken broth (just enough to cover the potatoes and sausage)
Milk or cream (1 pint of cream)
Kosher salt and pepper
Kale (or spinach)
Parmesan cheese

Using the same pan I fried the sausage in, I added 1 quart of chicken broth.  I bought some beautiful red potatoes on sale and am using them in the soup.  Clean and slice the potatoes so they are all pretty much the same size.

Put them in the cold chicken stock and turn on the heat.  This assures that they all cook evenly.  I add back in half of the sausage mixture (1 pound with the onion and garlic in it).  This flavors the potatoes while cooking. 

Cook until the potatoes are tender.  Add a little cream or milk depending on how rich you want it.  I used 2% milk and it is fine because the soup has so much flavor.

Taste for seasoning.  Add more salt and pepper if necessary.  I add kale at this point.  It was also on sale this week for 99¢ a bunch.  This adds great nutrition, flavor and color to the soup.  You could substitute spinach if you like.

When the kale is wilted, it is ready to serve.  I serve with some grated Parmesan cheese on top.  It is as good as the Olive Garden’s Toscana Zuppa.  Serve it with garlic bread to sop up the soup. 

The next recipe is a very simple pasta.

Italian Sausage Pasta

1 lbs of Italian sausage with onions and garlic from above
½ box (6 oz.) pasta of your choice
½ qt. of whole tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce (8 oz.)
1 tsp. of chopped garlic
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
Pinch of Kosher salt and pepper
Fresh ball of mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese

Boil your pasta in boiling salt water (I used bow tie but you can use any pasta) until it is al dente.  Drain it and put aside.  On another burner make a simple marinara sauce with tomatoes (I used my canned heirloom tomatoes I canned this summer), a small can of tomato sauce, chopped garlic, dried basil and oregano, Kosher salt and pepper.  Simmer until the tomatoes are broken up (I speed things up by using my hands to crush them first) and simmered for around 20 to 30 minutes. 

Spray a large casserole dish and add your cooked pasta, sausage mixture, Marinara sauce, chucks of mozzarella cheese, and as much Parmesan cheese as you like.  I use a lot of both cheeses in this because it is what makes the dish.  Stir in the casserole dish until well combined.  Top with some more mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

You may bake it now or you may put it in the refrigerator until you want to serve it.  Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until it is bubbly and the cheese has melted.  The melted stingy cheese makes the dish.  Serve it with a garlic bread. 

I should get almost a week’s worth of meals off of 2 lbs. of sausage.  I’m saving time, mess and money.  You can’t beat that.  I took half a carrot cake to mom so I have a half a carrot cake, soup and pasta  to keep me fed for awhile.  I'm taking a couple of days off of cooking.  See you in a couple of days.  

Hope you have a great weekend.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

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