Monday, June 29, 2009

Rustic Penne with rosemary grilled tomatoes, peppers, sausage and chicken

This is a Sunday afternoon invention that came out very well. Hearty, filling and satisfying without being too heavy. The quantities listed will feed 4-6 adults, depending on appetites. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it really came together pretty quickly and with little fuss. The rosemary was far less prominent in the finished dish than I thought it would be, so in the future I'll add a bit of fresh stuff at the very end.

1/2 pound of penne pasta, cooked according to package directions (I prefer Barilla Plus)
3 mild italian sausages or bratwurst
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt, pepper
3 T. minced fresh rosemary, divided
5 T. good quality balsamic vinegar, divided
1 lemon, juiced and zested
3-4 T. olive oil, divided
2 sweet bell peppers, seeds removed and quartered (I used a red and a yellow)
3 roma tomatoes, seeds and core removed
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 shallots, minced
15 ounce can of tomato sauce
parmesan cheese for garnish

Fire up the grill to preheat and start a large pot of water to cook the pasta. Sprinkle salt, pepper and rosemary generously over the chicken breasts and put them on the grill along with the sausages. In a small bowl, mix together 2 T. balsamic vinegar, the lemon juice and zest and a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the chicken is opaque and has nice grill marks on the bottom, brush the vinegar mixture over the top and flip over, then brush it on the bottom as well.

Add the pasta to the pot as soon as the water boils, then work on preparing the vegetables as directed. Drizzle the peppers and tomatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary, and add them to the grill. They will cook much more quickly than the meat, so watch them closely. You want them to have a little bit of char, but to still be firm enough to hold their form. Once the meat and veggies are cooked, pull them off to a plate and cover for a few minutes to let the meat juices settle.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil, then add the garlic and shallots. Saute for a couple minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then put the lid on and allow them to sweat for another 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and stir it in, then pour in the tomato sauce. If the sauce is on the flat and bland side like mine was, add another splash of balsamic vinegar. Simmer with the lid partially cocked to the side to allow it to reduce by half without making a complete mess of your kitchen.

Dice the tomatoes, and add them into the sauce. Slice the peppers into 1/4" x 1" strips. Slice the sausages lengthwise, then into "rainbow" slices. Slice the chicken into thin strips. Dump the drained noodles into a large serving bowl, add the peppers and meat, then pour in the sauce and toss until everything is well coated. If it's too thick, add a spoonfull of pasta water and a splash of olive oil until it's how you like it. Sprinkle with a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

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