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Rainy Day Shells with Broccoli, Garlic and Sausage

July 2, 2009

As I mentioned previously, I’m on furlough this week.  To me, furlough was going to be this grand and glorious time where I could sit by a pool, relax, drink lemonade and read books.  Marc and I would have lunches together every day, and I would sleep until noon.  BUT…. it’s a simple truth in life that sometimes, we don’t always get what we want.  For me, furlough’s sort of been an exercise in patience.  It started out great, with Consortium Weekend, and a fun night with our friends Maile and Sean, but the past 36 hours have been hellish.  I won’t go into all the details, but the long and short of it includes Marc getting stuck at Dulles Airport in Virginia, me being unable to sleep because of middle-of-the-night storms, rain that has been coming down in literal sheets, and a dog who doesn’t like to do his business outside in the rain, and so he has pooped in the house on numerous occasions.   Indulge me for a moment as I feel sorry for myself.

OK, moment over.

Marc got home today (17 hours late), and we took a glorious 4-5 hour nap and awoke like hungry animals after a long hibernation (Marc actually asked me what day it was).  I had planned on making this particular pasta dish, adapted from one of my favorite sites, Chaos in the Kitchen.  Seeing as our local Stop and Shop isn’t always outfitted with all necessary ingredients, I had to do a little tweaking, but the end result was just as delicious and comforting, especially during Boston’s unexpected monsoon season.

Rainy Day Shells with Broccoli, Garlic and Sausage

Yummmmmm ...

Yummmmmm ...

  • 10 oz. fresh or frozen broccoli florets, cut into small-ish pieces (I used fresh broccoli and I definitely recommend it)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, crumbled (I used Shady Brook Farms’ HOT Italian Turkey sausage, though this would be just as good with the sweet Italian sausage.  It just depends on your taste preference.)
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/3 c. sun-dried tomatoes (I used Pastene sun-drieds), jarred in oil and julienned
  • 3/4 lb. dried whole-wheat medium shells (the original recipe calls for orecchiette, but our Stop and Shop is lame….so the shells are a good substitute)
  • 1 tbsp. FRESH lemon juice (about a half a lemon — don’t use the bottle!!)
  • 3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • salt and pepper
  • crushed red pepper (optional)

1.  Boil water for pasta

2.  Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat.

3.  Cook sausage until browned.  Reserve on a plate to the side.

4.  Salt pasta water and cook pasta according to package.  When pasta is done, drain, but reserve about 1/2 – 1 cup water on the side.  You’ll use this later to moisten your meal.

5.  Turn heat on skillet to medium-low and add sliced garlic until golden brown.  Scrape up all the sausage bits that are in with the garlic.  This will be a yummy addition to your pasta.

6.  Add broccoli and return sausage to the pan.  Cook over high heat for about 4-5 minutes, or until broccoli is just tender.

finished product

finished product

7.  Add sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper to sausage mix.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly until tomatoes are warmed through.

8.  Returned drained pasta to pasta pot, add meat mixture and toss.  Add reserved pasta water to moisten, and cook over high heat until warmed.

9.  Remove heat and stir in lemon, cheese, salt and pepper.

10.  Serve with additional cheese, salt, pepper — and if you’d like, crushed red pepper flakes for additional heat.

This recipe yields a TON.  Since we were ravenous from our hibernation, we ate decent-sized portions (pictured above), and still had two lunch-sized leftovers, as well as additional leftovers in another Tupperware container.  It’s a very easy, comforting and flavorful dish and perfect for a rainy day.  Once I finish up the tons of leftovers, I will be making it again.

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