Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rotini with Sausage, Basil, and Pecorino Cheese

This simple pasta dish is loaded with flavor and so easy to put together. Savory Italian sausage (spicy or mild), salty pecorino cheese, and fragrant fresh basil combine with plum tomatoes to create a rich, scrumptious sauce for whole-grain pasta. Dinner is ready in about half an hour.

Note: When you use canned tomatoes, try to buy the best quality you can, without any added ingredients like herbs, garlic, or onions. Add those items fresh yourself, and look for canned tomatoes that include…well, tomatoes. And a little sea salt. For this recipe, I used peeled plum tomatoes, but other varieties will work fine.

Serves 4

  • 1 28-oz can whole plum tomatoes, drained
  • 8 oz whole-grain rotini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 hot (or mild) Italian sausage links (about 3/4 lb), casings removed and sausage pinched into small pieces
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup finely grated pecorino cheese, divided
Hot Italian Sausages 
Pinched Sausage Pieces
  1. Place the drained tomatoes in a bowl and roughly crush them with your fingers. Set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente, 9-10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
  3. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often, until browned, 6-7 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and reserved pasta water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the sauce is thick, 14-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the basil, cooked pasta, and 1/2 cup pecorino cheese, stirring well to combine.
Crushed Tomatoes 
Cooked Onion and Garlic 
Sausage Mixture 
Tomatoes Added
Cooked Sausage and Tomatoes
Cheese and Basil Added 
Pasta Added
Divide the pasta and sauce among 4 shallow bowls and sprinkle with the remaining pecorino before serving.

Rotini with Sausage, Basil, and Pecorino Cheese

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