One week when the meat sales weren’t particularly exciting at Publix, I found myself perusing the lunch meat/cured meat section looking for options. That’s when I discovered two brands of chicken sausage, Al Fresco and Aidells, that don’t have scary preservatives and nitrates. Now I try to keep chicken sausage in the fridge for quick and easy meals. The sausage is precooked, so that makes it particularly appealing for weeknight dinners, which have to be prepped and cooked in 30 minutes or less. Al Fresco also has small breakfast links that are great for the weekend.
Tonight we ate sausage and penne with balsamic tomatoes, garlic infused olive oil and topped with Parmesan cheese. I split the dinner-making process into two steps:
1. 15 minute window after work, before picking up kids:
- Removed casings and sliced the sausage on a diagonal
- Prepped the tomato mixture – I used our last tomato last night so I didn’t have a fresh one to dice, so I used half a can of diced tomatoes. Not ideal, but it worked. I mixed the tomatoes with some balsamic vinegar, some red onion and dried oregano and parsley. Fresh would have been even better. I let the mixture hang out on the counter.
- Grated the Parmesan cheese
- Heated some olive oil in a pan with minced garlic (yes, I used the jarred variety. It saves time). I put extra garlic oil in a jar.
- Cooked and drained about 8oz of penne pasta
- Heated the sausage in a skillet for a few minutes
- In the pasta pot, tossed pasta, couple splashes of oil, tomato mixture, sausage
- After plating I put the fresh grated cheese on top
There you have it! Guess I should think of a name for the dish, but it’s easy to customize and each time I make it I change something. If I have chives or other fresh herbs, I add those. Avocado might be nice, because I like avocado. Green peppers in the summer sounds good too. Tomorrow night we’re going to use the Italian style sausages for sandwiches on the panini maker.