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Saturday, October 15

The "Light" Side of Italian

Ok...Who out here LOVES Italian??  I know I do, and it's a favorite in our house all the way around.  However, there are times when it just seems like overkill.  It's inevitably a heavy meal, whether you're talking about spaghetti & meat sauce, lasagna, manicotti...it tends to be a gut buster, no doubt about it.  The primary reason for that is the sauces themselves.  The majority are based on either tomato paste or cheese/cream.  Both can have a rather filling quality, to be sure.


Well, that's going to change as of today!  We're going to explore the lighter side of Italian cuisine, and I can promise you all...this trip will be WELL worth it!!  Now...let me stop you RIGHT HERE, because I know most of you will make a connection that is very undeserving in this case...when I say LIGHT, I am NOT referring to reduced calorie, per se.  With some recipes, the lowered caloric content is just a bonus, but it's not what we're going after today.  No, when I say "light", I am talking not heavy...IE, not so overfilling that you feel like you'll explode when you're done.  When you finish this meal, you will have achieved the ULTIMATE in Italian love...all the flavor and enjoyment WITHOUT feeling overstuffed!  What more can you ask for?  So, without further ado, let's make something your family is going to clamor for.  Let's make Italian Sausage & Pepper Pasta!!

ITALIAN SAUSAGE & PEPPER PASTA

8 ounces thin spaghetti, prepared according to package directions (if you are salt conscious, eliminate the salt when cooking it)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, broken apart
1 medium onion, thinly sliced longways (top to bottom)
1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced longways
1 medium yellow or red bell pepper, thinly sliced longways
12-16 whole mushrooms (I prefer baby portobello, but white button will be fine), thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice, flavored with basil, oregano, and garlic (plain is fine, just use the additional * ingredients listed below)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
*1/2 teaspoon basil flakes
*1/2 teaspoon oregano flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, start your water for the pasta, and cook according to package directions, eliminating the salt if you prefer.  Drain, and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, begin the "sauce".  In a large dutch oven, brown the broken up Italian sausage in the olive oil, cooking until no longer pink.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a bowl, leaving the remaining olive oil behind

To the remaining oil, add the onion, both types of bell pepper, and garlic.  Saute until the veggies are tender-crisp (about 10-12 minutes).  Add the mushrooms, and cook for another 5-8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper (and other seasonings if needed), and bring to a light boil for about 5 minutes.  Put the cooked sausage into the mix, and bring just to a boil again, stirring well to blend and heat the sausage back up.  Remove from heat, then add the prepared pasta to the mix, stirring well to combine all the flavors.  Toss with Parmesan.  Let stand for about 5 minutes to allow the pasta to sort of soak up what little juice there is.

Serve with a fresh salad, and perhaps some garlic bread.  Serves 4-6.

That's ALL there is.  Now, this won't be "saucy"...in fact, it will seem as if there's no sauce at all.  However, I can assure you, it will be VERY satisfying, and your family WILL ask for this one again!!  Enjoy!!





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