Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ziti Al Fresco

Her return meant Ziti Al Fresco. Beautiful, spicy, rich, warm and basily, (it’s a new word) Ziti Al Fresco. The adjectives suit her and also the ziti. Yes, my daughter is home. There is no better feeling. At least until my son gets home. And then that is the best feeling because it means we will all be together at least for a short while until one of them leaves me again. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that. But let’s stay in the happy zone and let’s not start thinking about them leaving before we’ve enjoyed each and every moment. So when Zoe is home it means pasta. Lots and lots of pasta. I don’t know how she stays a size two. I didn’t inherit that gene.

A long time ago, which in my world is pre kid, there was a restaurant in Denver named Al Fresco. It was downtown and was a fun and happenin’ place. Until one day it closed. I don’t know why, but it is there no more. It served grandioso Italian food with little garlic rolls that I inhaled and devoured before I could even look at the menu. And the menu included Shrimp Gamberoni that were delish but also included Ziti Al Fresco. It was required that one of us always had to order the Ziti. My, oh my, I have never forgotten the ziti or the rolls which led me to create my own Ziti Al Fresco. I haven’t made it in a very long time and when you look at the ingredients you will see why. Yes, it has horrible heavy cream as one of its prime components. My, oh my. But I knew my Zoe could take it She did and she’s still a size 2! My husband was in heaven as he ate and I don’t know if he was smiling because she was home or because of what he was eating. My, oh my. This ziti is magical.

The garlic rolls are lurking!

Ziti Al Fresco  Serves 4

(I can’t promise that this is The Ziti Al Fresco, but it is mine and it is magical. You will feel all warm and tingly after eating. I promise.)

1 lb penne or zit cooked al dente in salted water

1 lb hot, very good Italian sausage, not in casing (If you need to you can always add some red pepper flakes to the sauce.)
1/2 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic
2T olive oil
3T red wine for deglazing
½ can tomato paste
1c heavy cream
1 pkg fresh basil chopped.
1/3c sun dried tomatoes sliced (in oil, but drained)
Salt and fresh pepper to taste

Heat oil until hot. Add sausage, onions and garlic. Cook until no pink is showing. Use wine to deglaze pan. Turn heat to medium low. Add your tomato paste. Stir it in, then add heavy cream. Let simmer and thicken while blending in the tomato paste. If you need to loosen up the sauce or make it more liquidy add some pasta water or more cream. Your choice. Stir in sun dried tomatoes and let those break up a bit. When almost finished, stir in the chopped basil.

Add sauce to drained ziti. This makes enough for 4, but no hoarding allowed. Sprinkle with parmesan and more basil.

 Now finish that bottle of wine you used to deglaze with and you will understand why you deglaze a pan with wine and why the chefs always say to never use a wine to cook with that you wouldn’t drink on its own. Pour a glass, take a bite and discover that magical warm feeling. Maybe another day I'll give you the garlic rolls.

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  1. Love hot Italian sausage and pasta of any kind. Great recipe. Always nice to associate certain dishes with people or events. Thanks for this.

  2. Thank you. Every time I look at this I want to make it again!

  3. Oh, Abbe! This is gorgeous! I love, love, love pasta with any kind of "pink" tomato cream sauce! Delicious! :D