It was dinner hour, or supper if you live in the Midwest as I do. It was perfect timing. Not that I had anything to do with the timing. It just happened. I had stopped by the grocery store to grab a few items and the aroma of the evening's skillet meal wafted through the aisles. In a mini kitchen, strategically located in a heavy traffic pattern, a chef prepares a meal then doles out samples. Ingredients are stocked close at hand so shoppers can grab-n-go and duplicate the meal at home. The recipe's title, sausage artichoke bolognese with sun-dried tomato bread, and its ingredients, had a gourmet flair... and the sample was wonderfully flavorful. Perfect for guests that I was expecting at my table in a few weeks. After closely scrutinizing the jars' labels and not seeing any questionable ingredients, I gathered my supplies.
Cook the ziti pasta. Brown the sausage. Open the jars of flame roasted peppers, sun-dried tomato pesto, and marinated artichoke hearts. Add along with the few remaining ingredients, heat, and eat. Quick and easy. Time left over to serge the edges of a piece of fabric for a tablecloth and pick a wildflower bouquet... or prepare a fresh salad and cheesecake for dessert, as the chef suggested.
Sausage Artichoke Bolognese
16 oz ziti pasta
3 (4 oz) links frozen chicken Italian sausage, thawed (I used 3 frozen Shelton's Turkey Italian Sausage Links that contain no artificial ingredients and the poultry is raised humanely.)
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1-12 oz jar roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I used a 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano.)
1 (12 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
3/4 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp Italian parsley, coarsely chopped (I used 2 tsp dried parsley.)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup Kraft Three Cheese Blend (Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago)
Prepare pasta according to package directions, then drain. To remove sausage casing, butterfly by cutting almost in half lengthwise then turn sausage over and peel casing away. Brown crumbled sausage in oiled skillet until no longer pink then add garlic, peppers, tomatoes, artichokes, and pesto. Cook 3-4 minutes or until heated. Stir in cream and olives; Cook 2-3 minutes or until sauce reduces and thickens slightly. Stir parsley and pepper into sausage mixture. Top pasta with sauce (or mix it into the pasta), then sprinkle with cheese. Makes 8 servings. Recipe suggestion: Layer with lasagna noodles instead of ziti pasta.
Sun-Dried Tomato Bread
Preheat oven to 350. Coat baking sheet lightly with oil. Unroll 1 can French bread dough onto work surface and coat with pesto, up to 1-inch from edge. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp cheese; roll lengthwise. Place on baking sheet, seam side down; sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp cheese. Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden. Note: I taste-tested this bread in the store, but it was a bit doughy and made with white bleached flour, so I didn't make it at home. I liked the flavor, though, so I'm going to experiment with a loaf of fresh whole-grain French bread.