Do you have a passion for primavera? Does parmesan cheese make your heart go pitter patter? Do you feel the pull of perfectly prepared pasta, veggies, and sausage? If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, please read on. Today’s post could quite possibly be positively the most palate pleasing primavera known to man. Yes, it’s that good. And my version is gluten free, too!
The thing that’s so positively priceless about this recipe is that I stumbled upon it without much forethought. In the days prior to and just after Christmas, my neck of the woods in Oregon got pummeled by Mother Nature and Jack Frost. When the skies finally cleared, my yard had 14 inches of snow topped with an inch thick ice crust. This was the most snow I’ve seen since moving here, and the most snow the area has seen since the last freak snow storm 30 years ago. My town is not accustomed to nor prepared to handle snow, so ... it shut down. No stores were open. No schools were open. No restaurants were open. Even churches cancelled Christmas services. To be honest, I loved it. The snow was beautiful, and being homebound enabled us to enjoy the Christmas season without rushing around everywhere. We played board games and cards, sang songs at the piano, toasted our tootsies at the fire place, and just enjoyed each other. I didn’t miss all the rush and running that I usually succumb to this time of year.
There would be no running to the store for ingredients, so by the time snowbound day number eight rolled around, I was getting creative with our food stock. Hmmm ... do you ever do that? Open the fridge and cupboard and piece together a meal? Picture me opening bins and cabinets ... Broccoli – check. Red pepper – check. Smoked sausage – check. Cream, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts – check, check, check. Pasta (gluten free for us) – check. Twenty minutes later came the best meal ever! And it was gluten free, all the way baby!
Here’s what you need:
1 package pasta – I used gluten free spirals, but you can use whatever you like
1 head broccoli – cut into bite sized florets, steamed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 red pepper – sliced in medium sized strips
Smoked sausage – sliced thin on the bias (for those following gluten free diets, but sure to read the labels to make sure you get one made without wheat. Who wants wheat in their sausage anyway?)
3 T pine nuts – toasted
4 T butter
1 Cup cream
1 clove garlic – minced
1 ½ Cups fresh grated parmesan cheese
Green onions – for garnish
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Steam the broccoli, by which ever method you prefer, until it is just tender. (I steam my broccoli right over the pasta water by putting it in a colander that fits right on top of the pot. You could even dump it into the pasta water for the last couple minutes of boiling if you waned to.) In a large sauté pan, over low heat, toast the pine nuts until they just start to turn golden. Remove from the pan, turn the heat to med/high, add the olive oil and fry “grill” the sausage until nicely browned. Add the peppers and quickly sauté until crisp tender. Remove the pan from the burner, but keep sausage and pepper in pan to stay warm.
In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the garlic, and let it very lightly sauté for a minute or two to get rid of the raw garlic taste. Add the cream, and heat just until boiling. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the parmesan cheese. Drain the pasta, and immediately add it and the broccoli to the large sauté pan. Pour the sauce over everything and toss gently. Add the pine nuts and gently toss again. Season with black pepper if you want it. There is no need for salt as the parma cheese is salty as is the sausage. Plate the servings and garnish with green onions.Ta-da! Doesn’t it look pretty on the plate! The flavors were terrific. The smoked sausage was a surprising perfect compliment to the pasta and veggies. The pine nuts added wonderful flavor and texture to each bite.Just look at that sausage and broccoli! Hello beautiful. Take a bite. Make yummy noises. Sing let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Let the weather outside be frightful; this pasta is delightful! (Okay, OKAY – I’ll stop. Sheesh!)
Oh, sorry, one more thing ... As I mentioned, we consume gluten free pasta because my littlest snow bunny can’t eat wheat. For those of you who may be interested in alternatives to wheat pasta, I encourage you to try rice pasta.Here’s the brand that my kids like best. It comes in various shapes and cooks just like regular pasta.
See? It really does cook just like regular pasta. The texture is great, and it performs wonderfully. I never cook it as long as the package says (which I didn’t do with regular pasta either). YUM. The taste is like mild pasta ... they do not taste like rice. Rice pastas can be found in the “natural” section at the grocery store, as well as specialty stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes. They are more expensive compared to regular pasta, but are a welcome alternative for gluten free eaters.
NOTE: For a LOVELY baked version similar to this, check out Maria’s recipe titled Broccoli Pasta at Organically Cooked. Have you visited her blog yet? Maria is awesome! She lives in Hania, Crete, Greece, and her blog is a wonderful journey through both the culinary wonders of Greek food as well as a history and travel blog for her lovely country. I'm hooked on her stories, and have learned tons about food, food production, and beautiful Greece.