Many years ago when Francois and I were dating,
we reached that point when I was faced with inviting him to dinner ‘chez moi’.
It was intimidating on so many levels.
Firstly, my meal preparation revolved solely around cooking for my kids.
You know – Mac ‘n Cheese, Shepherds Pie, Fish Sticks, PB&J…
and yes, my dear daughter, if you are reading this,
I did try to hide veggies in your peanut butter sandwiches,
sometimes even shredded chicken and smashed peas.
The most creative I remember getting was making my own Chickens Nuggets.
I was so pathetically out of touch with preparing adult meals.
Secondly, I had already been treated to dinners ‘Chez Francois’
and wow could that man cook!
And finally, the topping to my intimidation/confidence pile,
he told me his mother had attended
the Cordon Bleu school in Paris as a young girl
which predisposed a certain expected level of ‘dining’.
All that being said, I pulled it all off fairly well with the following pasta meal.
And it just happens to be an easy recipe for a small galley/kitchen
and continues to be one of our favourites…
a favourite with fond memories…
2 cups Rigatoni or penne
6 Italian sausage (our choice, spicy), cut into 1″ pieces
2-3 swirls around the pan of olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup onion, chipped
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried chilis (we do love spicy)
sea salt & pepper to taste
3 large plum tomatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup sweet peppers, chopped
2 cups mushrooms
2 cups chopped broccolini
Parmesan cheese, shaved for garnish
Cook pasta as per directions,
(or try my passive method)
drain and set aside.
Sauté onion and garlic in oil until garlic does what it’s supposed to do.,
but be careful not to scorch.
Add sausage to brown.
Season, then deglaze with wine.
Add tomatoes, paste and mushrooms.
The juices released from the tomatoes & mushrooms
combined with the wine and sausage
will provide a wonderful light sauce,
just enough to eventually coat the pasta.
Add the rest of the veggies and gently simmer until crunchy done-ness.
Toss in pasta to coat with the juices and return to serving temperature.
Load into pasta bowls and top with shaved Parmesan.
Still together after 18 years,

I’d like to think, due in part to this simple dish.

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