I've always hated the end of summer. Vacations end, kids go back to school, the weather cools, and my tan fades. The one thing I don't mind about this time of year is the return of hearty comfort foods. Don't panic! Hearty and comforting doesn't mean difficult and time consuming. Tonight's meaty, creamy pasta filled with vegetables and spicy sausage comes together in under an hour and pairs perfectly with a glass of vino tinto. If you don't have access to fresh artichokes, simply substitute your favorite brand of canned artichoke hearts. Be sure to use rigatoni as the thickness of the sauce calls for a more robust pasta. To take the edge off of the end of summer, make this and
1 1/2 pounds artichokes (1 1/2 in. wide) or 1 can artichoke hearts
1 head fennel (3 1/2 in. wide)
1 pound mild or hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup fat-skimmed chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 pound dried rigatoni pasta
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt, black pepper
fresh dill, optional garnish
- If using fresh baby artichokes, break off and discard artichoke leaves down to the pale green, tender inner leaves. Cut off and discard thorny tips. Trim bottoms. Quarter artichokes (they will discolor). Trim out and discard fuzzy centers. Rinse and drain artichokes.
- Trim and discard stems and any bruised portions from fennel. Rinse fennel and thinly slice crosswise.
- In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat, frequently stir sausages, breaking up meat with spoon, until brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add artichokes, fennel, onion, fennel seed, garlic, and bell pepper to pan. Stir often until onion is limp, about 10 minutes.
- Pour wine, broth, and cream into pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until artichokes are tender when pierced, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in 4 quarts boiling water until tender to bite, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Drain pasta, put in a serving bowl, and top with artichoke sauce. Garnish with fresh dill if desired. Offer cheese, black pepper and salt to taste.
Nutritional Information CALORIES 526(43% from fat); FAT 25g (sat 10g); PROTEIN 20g; CHOLESTEROL 64mg; SODIUM 711mg; FIBER 4.3g; CARBOHYDRATE 52g