13 December, 2012

Caprese Pasta with Italian Sausage, Rapini, and Roasted Red Pepper

Here's a quick weeknight meal for you.  

It may be quick, but it's not short on flavor.  

I don't do pasta very often.  I try to eat pretty healthy and to me, pasta is a food that serves no purpose but added carbs.  I feel the same way about potatoes.  Just two heavy foods. 

And on top of that, pasta dishes are often loaded with cheese.  
Don't get me wrong- I love cheese. 
But I don't like feeling like I just gained 10 pounds eating one meal.  
And I DO like feeling like I gained some nutrients when eating dinner.  

Fret not, this is not a dish that will make you feel like you just swallowed an anvil. 
This is a light garlicky pasta dish loaded with rapini (also known as broccoli rabe), roasted red pepper, and tomatoes.  

The caprese flavors- tomato, basil, mozzarella have a nice cooling complement when served with flavorful prosciutto and Italian sausage.  It gives this dish a fresh flavor- with the garlic adding some savory notes.  
I had whole-wheat gemelli pasta on hand, but you can certainly use whatever noodle you'd prefer.

The roasted red pepper I roasted myself, but it you are short on time a jar of roasted red peppers will do.  

Caprese Pasta with Italian Sausage, 
Rapini, and Roasted Red Pepper

1 10 ox box gemelli pasta (or pasta of your choice)
2 ounces diced prosciutto
1 lb ground sweet italian sausage
1 red pepper, roasted, skin removed, and sliced thinly (or about 6 oz jarred)
2 pounds rapini (broccoli rabe), tough stems removed and cut lengthwise into manageable pieces
1 head garlic, peeled and minced (use a food processor with a drizzle of olive oil to complete quickly)
1 cup (about 1/2 pint) grape tomatoes
8-10 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes/balls
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus some for sauteing

Prepare the rapini.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rapini, and boil until crisp-tender, 4 minutes or so.  Remove rapini with slotted spoon, and place in a bowl of ice water.  Let rest there a couple minutes, and then remove from water, pat dry, and set aside.

Prepare the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook until al dente according to package instructions. 
Reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta and return to pot off the heat. Drizzle it with a bit of olive oil while cooking sausage.

Prepare the meat.  In a large skillet, heat a few drizzles of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the prosciutto and saute until it starts to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.  In same skillet, add the italian sausage and cook until no longer pink, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, broccoli rabe, red pepper, and reserved pasta water and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Assemble.  Add the meat and vegetables to the pot of pasta and combine.  Add the basil and mozzarella, and serve.


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