While in Phoenix, my friends took me to their favorite Italian joint for dinner. We got there early – maybe 5:45 – and the place was stuffed to the gills inside already with a solitary couple gamely sitting on the patio despite the chilly weather, enjoying their appetizers and some coffee. Since there was no room in the main part of the restaurant, we took our place near them, disappointed that we would have to forgo the wine we brought because of the alcohol restrictions on the patio. That was until our “coffee” came out, and we discovered the very clever workaround that the restaurant had come up with.
The special of the house was this incredible pasta in a cream, pepper, and sausage sauce with just enough heat. I resolved to give it a go when I got back home. It seemed like just the thing to dress up some chard. I figured that I would have to give it a few tries before getting it right, but it came out ridiculously good at the first go. Seriously, I don’t know how I will keep from making this EVERY DAY. It’s that good. At the restaurant, it was swimming in luscious cream sauce. I wanted to lighten it up somewhat. While what I ended up with is hardly “light” it won’t make you sorry you ate it the next morning either. There’s no swimming in cream in my version. And you can feel moderately virtuous about eating your greens anyway.
- 1 lb sweet Italian chicken sausage
- 1/2 onion, chopped into dice
- 1 bunch chard (about 10 enormous leaves), chopped
- 1/2 C chopped bell pepper (preferably red)
- 1/2 C stock
- 1/2 C cream
- 1/2 C grated parm, plus more for topping
- generous sprinkle red pepper flakes
- pasta (enough for 4)
Remove sausage from casings and brown in a large saucepan. When cooked, remove sausage to another bowl and pour off all the oil except what clings to the pan. Brown the onion. Add stock and scrape up all the brown bits. Add cream and cheese, and bring to a boil. Add chard, red pepper, and bell peppers and cook until chard has cooked down considerably, and the sauce is nice and thick. Meanwhile, boil the pasta. If needed, loosen the sauce with a bit of the pasta water. Serve sauce over pasta. Makes four plate-licking servings!