I called this Sausage and Vegetable Pasta but it is my go to clean-out-the-fridge everyday pasta dish. At home we call this Marg’s Hot Hot Pasta because it originally came from my Gourmet Dinner Club friend Marg. She’s the one known to never follow a recipe. She once confessed that when she serves amazing food to her family they say, “too bad we’ll never have this again”.
I encourage you to think of this as more of a guide than a recipe. It’s different every time I make it and I made two dishes here to show how different it can be. All you need to get started is some olive oil (or some kind of oil), onions (or maybe not) and garlic. I also make this to use up fresh herbs that are on their way out.
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Planning is always a good idea, but some days it’s time for dinner and there is no plan. Maybe even no groceries, or so it would seem. That’s when I dig around in the back of the fridge and look in every drawer. I might find something like one shrivelled up mushroom, a quarter of a red pepper or some broccoli stems.
On those kind of days I say, “let’s have Marg’s Hot Hot Pasta”. I heat some olive oil in a pan then add onion, garlic, hot pepper flakes and a spicy Italian sausage if I have one. That makes it hot hot.
Then I find what’s in the fridge and chop it up. If the fridge is desperately bare I look in the cupboard too. I’ll include any, but not all, of the following:
- -zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower
- -leftover cooked vegetables
- -canned or fresh tomato
- -sun dried tomatoes in oil (and I’ll use some of the oil too)
- -canned artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives or olive tapenade
- -roasted garlic or caramelized onion
- -pine nuts or pumpkin seeds
- -any fresh herbs
You simply need to add enough things to satisfy your definition of dinner. It doesn’t need to include meat but the original recipe calls for the spicy Italian sausage and we like that.
Get The Tools – Skillet vs Sauté Pan
I see the terms skillet, frying pan and sauté pan used interchangeably in recipes and I’m guilty of that as well. There is a difference but it is one of those things that really doesn’t make a difference, until it does.
A skillet has slanted sides that makes it more friendly for stirring and ideal when cooking a frittata that needs to be flipped. A sauté pan, used for frying thus the term frying pan, has straight sides and so a slightly larger surface area on the bottom. This is nice if you are making a sauce with lots of liquid but in the end they all do the same job.
Over the years I’ve bought several non-stick frying pans since the coating deteriorates with use and abuse (no metal utensils please). For this recipe I don’t use a non-stick pan. I want the brown bits off the bottom of the pan in my sauce so I use the 11-inch frying pan from my Paderno set of pots and pans. There are many excellent brands to choose from but that first set of good quality pots and pans could last you a lifetime. Choose wisely.
I hope you’ll give this clean-out-the-fridge dish a try and name it whatever you want. Let me know in the comments below what you thought.
More Pasta Recipes
- –Chicken Pesto Pasta
- –Butternut Squash and Pancetta Penne
- –Pasta with Fresh Sorrel and Feta
- –Southwestern Grilled Vegetable Pasta
And now for something completely different, this is my other clean-out-the-fridge recipe, an Everyday Vegetable Stir Fry. A totally different taste and another way to use up odd bits of things in the fridge. It too is quite different every time I make it.
|4 Tbsp good quality olive oil|
|4 oz spicy Italian sausage|
|2 cloves garlic, chopped|
|½ onion, sliced|
|½ red or green pepper, sliced|
|½ tsp dried red pepper flakes|
|¼ cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped|
|FINISHING - ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper|
|8 oz. GF pasta|
|OPTIONAL - any additional vegetables on hand (see recipe description for suggestions)|
- Heat oil in large frying pan on medium high heat.
- Add sausage, onion, pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes.
- When sausage is browned remove and slice. Return to pan and continue cooking until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes total.
- Add fresh herbs and stir.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse and gently toss with vegetable mixture. Serve.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper.