Tuesday, March 23, 2010

let's change it up

Tuesdays aren't my favorite day of the week.  My husband teaches an evening jazz combo group at a local high school, so I have very little time with him, to go running, and to make dinner.  So I always have to come up with something fast.  And I'm trying to lose weight so it has to be something that works with that.  And, most important to me, it has to taste good.  So coming up with new ideas for that every week can be a challenge.  But I love food challenges.

One of my favorite meals is a good creamy mushroom pasta.  But that much heavy cream and butter isn't exactly everyday cooking.  So I had to make some adjustments, and I really liked it!  I used some turkey smoked sausage to add flavor, which actually made it so I didn't add ANY salt to the dish.  Except to cook the pasta.  I never cook pasta without salt.  The key to the turkey smoked sausage was to slice it thin so it can distribute and taste like there's a lot in there, and brown it.  I know it's pre-cooked, but it's just kinda rubbery and plastic-ey if you don't brown it.  The second thing I did was the reduce whole milk instead of using heavy cream, and of course it's not as rich and creamy, but it was still a nice, dense sauce, with lots of good dairy flavor.  But don't skimp and use low fat or fat free milk.  It won't work, I promise.  The third thing I did was garnish with a dollop of ricotta cheese.  Just another nice layer of dairy.  Try it out!

Healthy Mushroom and Sausage Rigatoni
serve 4~6 

1 lb rigatoni
salt for pasta
8 oz mushrooms (white button or cremini work well here), sliced
1/4 link of turkey smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thin
1/4 C whole milk
2~3 cloves garlic, minced
pepper to taste
canola or olive oil for cooking
1/4 C finely chopped fresh parsley
3 T freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
part-skim ricotta to serve

  1. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil and cook pasta to al dente.  Reserve 1/2 C pasta water.  Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, bring about 1 T oil to a shimmer over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to brown.  Make sure the mushrooms are in a single layer and not too crowded.  
  3. Add sausage, and cook until browned.  Add milk and lots of fresh cracked black pepper, and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan from the sausage.  Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens.  Add cheese and stir to combine.
  4. Add the pasta and parsley, and toss to coat.  Add some reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce.
  5. To serve, sprinkle with extra parsley, parmesan cheese, and a dollop of ricotta cheese.


Bryson Mortensen said...

Lillian, as your friend in trying to lose weight (trying myself to cut off the post wedding pounds...) and as a "former" italian, I have found that I can make a creamy cream sauce by making besciamella sauce (basically a rue plus milk and whatever seasoning you like, they always added salt and nutmeg). It gives you the impression of creaminess while still using lowfat milk!

Lillian said...

Good point, Bryson, thanks for sharing! I thought to make a basic bechamel, but this time I wanted something simpler and slightly thinner. And I figured 1/4 C of whole milk doesn't hurt. But I agree with you, bechamel is a great way to go if you want a creamy sauce.

p.s. I like the Italian name for it, I've never seen it used before:)

Megan Tea said...

I think this sounds wonderful! and it just so happens that I have some mushrooms that I need to use up!!! Thanks so much. I love trying your recipes! :)

Indiana Haffners said...

Why didn't I check your blog 30 min ago? I so needed a dinner idea and had all these ingredients! :)