Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Let It Snow Primavera Alfredo with Grilled Smoked Sausage

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.


Mediterranean kiwi said...

funny we both chose the same meal at about the same time - great minds think alike!

The Blonde Duck said...

That looks lovely! Yum!

Tatersmama said...

OMGoodness... this looks soooo good, and luckily I have everything on hand. :o)
It would make the perfect New Years Eve dinner, so I can quit stressing over what I'm going to cook tonight!

Cheryl said...

Wasn't the snow amazing, I am glad it is gone tho! that looks very good, I thought of you a few weeks ago The Oregonian Foodday had a bunch of gluten free recipes!

Cathy said...

What an excellent pasta dish, Paula. I love the addition of broccoli and pine nuts.

Its amazing what we can create with what's in the cupboard.

I'm so glad the snow is gone. Free at last.

Marjie said...

I think it's wonderful that you had a snowbound and quiet Christmas. Rushing around probably doesn't help anyone else's day, and certainly ruins yours! I love pasta in alfredo sauce, and everyone here loves sausage. To feed my crew, can you do the calculations to multiply that by 4? If I cook less than 4 pounds of pasta, people HOWL about me starving them....Love your food pictures, too!

Esi said...

Paula, I love that your recipes are usually things I am craving. This is another great one. I hope you have a happy new year!!!

noble pig said...

That snow was crazy...we got out of PDX on the 17th in a blizzard...it was shocking!

The pasta is awesome and the perfect meal to piece together.

doggybloggy said...

auld lang siene

Paula said...

Happy "almost" New Year's everyone!

Med Kiwi: I love your baked version! Yum!

Blonde Duck: It really is lovely to look at, and tastes great, too!

Tatersmama: It's a great meal and super easy to prepare!

Cheryl: Oh man, I didn't see that Foodday! Hmmm ... I'm going to the library in a couple days; I'll look for it!

Cathy: I've been craving veggies lately. I'll be making a chopped salad soon that's will satisfy my veggie fix!

Marjie: I did think of you when I was making this and wondered how much pasta you need. My kids still prefer all their items separate, although middle child now likes alfredo sauce!

Esi: It was really good! Happy New Year!

Noble Pig: You were lucky to get out! They closed all the highways and everything around town was super quiet! No car noise or overhead planes. It was great! Happy New Year! I'm hoping for 12 sweet grapes!

Doggy Bloggy: Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!

Pam said...

I love lots of snow, as long as we keep our power. I also love how versatile pasta is, this looks wonderful. I think I have some sausage in the freezer!

Grace said...

i don't know that i have a passion for pasta primavera in general, but i do have a passion for cream. lovely dish, paula!

Bellini Valli said...

This would be a perfect meal in my books but I would have to carve my route to the store for broccoli. It has been a pleasure getting to know you over the past year. I look forward to all that 2009 has to offer!!!!

Pam said...

It sounds like a wonderful meal. We were loving the storm too... I loved all the snow - my kids did too.

Happy New Years Paula.

Jan said...

You did get creative, Paula. My mouth was watering reading this recipe, I love all the ingredients, and I bet it was totally yumptious. It's a good thing you didn't lose power with all that snow.

I never cook my pasta as long as it says on the packet, we prefer it al dente too.

I hope you and your family have a very Happy New Year.

Kevin said...

That looks tasty! Happy new year!

Lori said...

14 inches of snow?! Yikes!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love what you concocted here Paula! Sometimes the best meals are those you just whip up with things you have, the creative juices start to flow! Whishing you and yours a terrific 2009!

Aggie said...

This looks awesome and even better b/c you created it with use it up items!! I can see how you enjoyed being holed up in the snow for a few days...how peaceful to not have to run around.

Have a blessed and healthy new year Paula!!

OhioMom said...

Happy New Year Paula! Love this dish :)

Paula said...

Happy 2009 everyone!

Pam: Thanks! You know, I should take greater advantage of my freezer!

Grace: Thanks! Cream .... yum!

Bellini Valli: I've been craving veggies almost non-stop for a couple of weeks! Thanks your for kind comments and here's to 2009!

Pam: Hope you are enjoying the snow on your vacation! We're supposed to get a wind storm tonight! Click your heels and come on back!

Jan: I just love your word, YUMPTIOUS! That should be a blog standard! Ha! Happy New Year!

Kevin: It really was quite tasty! Happy New Year!

Lori: The snow's all gone now! I miss it! Happy New Year!

Proud Italian: It was fun to throw together! Happy New Year!

Aggie: I have to admit that I loved being snowbound! Happy New Year!

Ohio Mom: Thanks! Happy New Year!

Sophie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog :). Looks like we're fans of the same noodle brand! So far those are the best gf noodles I've had. The noodles in the Annie's Gluten Free Mac and Cheese are really yummy too :)! Happy New Year to you too!

:) Sophie from Flour Arrangements