I was a breath away from posting two vegetarian dishes in a row when out of nowhere appeared a bunch of really nice sweet Italian sausages. They came from a local butcher here in town, a gift from an acquaintance who on occasion swings by the house, well, unannounced.
This person's timing is impeccable. Never does he/she arrive so close to dinner time that I cannot find a way to incorporate the item or items inside of the bag that arrives with them. Once it was an entire pork roast, another six different kinds of shellfish; on one particularly memorable occasion it was an 11-pound fresh turkey.
And so you could see why a mere couple pounds of sweet sausage didn't rattle me. A day earlier I had decided to alter a recipe which (coincidentally) called for sausage as a main ingredient. The recipe, Strozzapreti with Sausage, Grapes and Red Wine, was from Carmellini's "Urban Italian." I didn't have strozzapreti on hand but did have a really nice matriciani to use in its place. I was also about to substitute walnuts for the sausage (go ahead Kitty; you too Mavis and Little Glodes), but then of course my visitor showed up.
This recipe (reprinted in its entirety below) requires that you plan a day ahead, eight hours actually. The grapes need to be sliced and mixed with sugar, vinegar and wine.
Then they need to macerate overnight in the fridge.
Boil the mixture until the liquid reduces by around half. While this is happening you're also sauteing the sausage meat in another pan, as well as boiling your pasta.
Add the grapes to the sausage.
And then add the pasta, mix thoroughly, and serve.
I still think the walnuts would be a nice substitution. Next time I won't answer the doorbell. And hope my acquaintance just goes away.
Strozzapreti with Sausage, Grapes and Red Wine
Adapted from "Urban Italian," by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman
1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half lengthwise
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 lb strozzapreti pasta (I used matriciani here)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs Italian sausage (about 4 links)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
10 sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1. Combine the grapes, wine, sugar, and vinegar in an airtight container and store in the fridge at least 8 hours.
2. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
3. In a medium saucepot, bring the grape mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes, then remove from heat.
4. Cook the pasta until al dente.
5. Remove sausage meat from casings, heat olive oil in a pan and add the meat; cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the onion and continue cooking, stirring well, until sausage is well browned and onions have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sage leaves and stir to combine.
7. Add the grape mixture and stir well.
8. Add the cooked pasta and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat, add the butter, cheese and black pepper, stirring well. Add the parsley and serve immediately, topped with additional cheese.