One of the great things I learned eating my way through Italy when I was younger was how little sauce Italian chefs actually used on their pasta. So many of the sauces are really very light. That was a great revelation to me as I had been used to American style pasta sauces, which were thick, long cooked with canned tomatoes and heavy on the oregano. And while that style of Italian cooking has a place in my heart, I love using fresh tomatoes instead of canned when I make pasta. The other thing I learned was that you didn't serve the pasta with the sauce spooned on top, you actually tossed the pasta in the sauce. So when I am in the mood for pasta and tomatoes are not in season, of course I will turn to San Marzano tomatoes. But today when I went to the grocery store, I found some really ripe Roma tomatoes, which instantly got me in the mood for pasta. I grabbed some Italian Sausage (I am fond of the Iserno brand here in Seattle) and a bag of arugula. When I took it all home, I cooked the sausage with some garlic and onion and then added some white wine and some pepper flakes before adding in the tomatoes. I cooked those only lightly enough to make a thin sauce and added in the arugula to wilt at the end. I served it with some al dente Buccatini from Italy (long hollow spaghetti like tubes) - rice pasta for me - and the sauce barely coated each strand. I served it sprinkled on top with a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano cheese. It was delightfully fresh and savory - full of the Umami flavor with a wonderful surprising bite from the arugula. It also can be made in the time that the pasta cooks. I loved this pasta sauce and hope you will too.
Sausage, Tomato and Arugula Pasta Sauce
1 pound Italian Sausage (removed from the casings)
8 Roma Tomatoes, stem piece removed and diced
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large garlic clove minced
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper flakes
2 cups Arugula
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 pound cooked Italian pasta of your choice
For serving: fresh grated Pecorino-Romano Cheese (or Parmesan)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add pasta when the water boils. Cook following the package instructions to just al dente (most pastas will take 10 minutes once the water is boiling). Drain and add to sauce.
In a large frying pan, put in the olive oil and add the garlic and onions. Cook until the onions become translucent. Put in the Italian Sausage and cook, breaking the sausage down into small pieces until it is no longer pink. Add in the Tomatoes and cook until they just start to break down into a sauce. Then add in the arugula until it wilts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the cooked pasta and serve with Pecorino-Romano Cheese grated on top.
Five Element Analysis
Italian Sausage is made with pork so it belongs to the Water Element. The tomatoes contribute the Fire Element and the white wine and red pepper flakes add even more. The Arugula and pasta bring in the Wood Element and the garlic and onion add the Metal Element. Only the Earth Element is missing so add a sweet dessert and you have a balanced meal!