Recession Proof Cooking, Part II (Peppers, Penne & Anduille Sausage
Peppers, Penne & Anduille Sausage
Peppers are in season, and my local newspaper has featured a number of delicious recipes using red, green, orange and yellow peppers. Yet, every store that I have been to is selling peppers for at least $2.00 apiece. I love to cook fresh, but if I am to pay four bucks for the peppers in my recipe, that leaves little of my recession era budget for anything else. I know that fresh peppers offer an abundance of vitamins A and C. Crisp and raw, there is little to compare. A raw pepper, however, is not filling and not the answer to an empty belly. When a well known burger can be ordered for less than the cost of a pepper, is there any question what a hungry urban dweller is going to put in their tummy to fill it. Probably not.
So, I begin to do the math. If a family of four needed say, eight of these burgers to quell the rumblings, might I be able to produce a wonderful pasta dish with the aforementioned peppers for less than the cost of those burgers, using a frozen product, while still preserving the vitamins and minerals? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, frozen vegetables may be even healthier than the fresh available at your local market because they are picked at their peak ripeness, then blanched and flash frozen to preserve their freshness. Trader Joe's is my local market of choice when it comes to frozen veggies. Their Melange a Trois, is a 16 oz. package of red, yellow & green bell pepper strips. Purchased for $1.69, with enough for two meals, I decided to cook an Italian inspired favorite of mine, ‘Penne, Peppers & Andouille Sausage’. Trader Joe’s also offers a great selection of chicken sausage in four packs. I choose the Smoked Andouille Chicken Sausage. The spicy flavors will pair well with the peppers and they have much less fat than their pork counterparts. At $3.99 for a pack of four, I plan to sauté all of them, then reserve a portion for the scramble I will make the following morning. A box of Penne, no. 40 (I prefer De Cecco, but there are a lot of great brands out there), a clove of garlic, parmesan (we’ll only need about ¼ cup grated) and we are all set.
A word about pasta. Following the directions on your box of pasta will not necessarily yield the very best results. They are a guide. The best results involve watching and testing as you go along. As you gain experience, your pasta will come out al dente or ‘to the tooth’, meaning that your pasta will not be limp and slimy and mushy, but firm and slightly chewy. When pasta is cooked too much, the gluten breaks down and the result is both pasta that has an unpleasant texture and one that has a high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index break down quickly during digestion releasing glucose quickly into the bloodstream. Foods with a low glycemic index break down slowly, requiring less insulin and providing longer term energy. This is actually a place where the aesthetic meets the healthy.
Penne is a cylinder shape pasta with diagonally cut ends. This tubular pasta comes ‘smooth’(lisce) or ‘ridged’(rigate). I prefer the longer, slimmer, penne lisce, but either would be fine for this dish. Remember to set aside some of the sausage for tomorrow’s scramble!
Peppers, Penne & Anduille Sausage
3 Chicken Anduille Sausage
½ of 12 oz. package tri-color peppers
2 T. Olive Oil
3 garlic cloves, slivered
Pinch of Thyme
Pinch of Sea Salt
Parmesan to taste
8 oz. dried penne
2 T. chopped Italian Parsley
Start boiling the water for the penne, and cook it as you sauté this dish. Prick sausages and place in sauté pan with tsp. of olive oil (med. High). Sliver the garlic cloves and add. When sausages have plumped, after about 4 min., slice into rounds and continue to sauté until brown on both sides. Add a bit of the olive oil, then add frozen peppers and cook for 5 minutes, adding the thyme, salt & pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Toss w/the pasta, parmesan & Italian parsley and serve immediately.