Sometimes I see an interesting ingredient at the market that is interesting mostly because I don’t use it often, and then I buy it and it ends up going past the expiry date because I don’t use it often. Sounds familiar? I had some already cooked chestnuts that were going down that path, and so it was a good thing that I saw a recipe for pasta with chestnuts and sausage on Paola’s blog Primo non sprecare. It is very appropriate to use one of Paola’s recipes to avoid throwing away food, because that is exactly the theme of her blog.
This dish is perfect for autumn and very tasty with the combination of sweet chestnuts, salty sausage, and earthy mushrooms. And although cooking with chestnuts may be unusual, it is a simple dish that is quick and easy to prepare. Kees also liked it, so I will probably make it again with the other half of the package of chestnuts that still remains.
When I prepare pasta dishes I often cheat a little, because in Italy it is most often a primo piatto that has a high ratio of pasta to ‘sauce’ or whatever is served with the pasta. That is fine if the primo is followed by a secondo (meat or fish) with contorni (vegetable side), but if you are just having the pasta than it is not really a full meal as the amount of protein and vegetables is too low. Although I often serve both primo and secondo even for weekday meals, just as often I ‘cheat’ and double the amount of meat and/or vegetables that go into a pasta dish to turn it into a full meal (piatto unico). As in this case, where I used Paola’s amounts for 4 people, served with pasta for 2. So if you want to make this more Italian, double the amount of pasta and serve to 4, or halve the amount of other ingredients for 2.
For 2 servings (or 4 servings if you double the pasta)
250 grams (8 oz) sweet Italian sausage, taken out of its casing (I make my own Italian sausage and don’t bother to put it into casings as the first thing I am going to do is take it out of the casing)
125 grams (1/2 cup) cooked chestnuts
30 grams (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
200 grams (7 oz) short pasta, I used wholewheat penne
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, for garnish
Put the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to soak for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package instructions for al dente.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic clove. Cook over medium heat until the garlic is golden. As the goal is to infuse the oil with garlic, it helps to tilt the pan.
Add the sausage meat and discard the garlic clove.
Cook the sausage meat over medium-high heat, breaking it up with wooden spatulas…
…until it is starting to brown.
Deglaze with the white wine.
Take the mushrooms out of the soaking liquid and reserve. Filter the mushroom soaking liquid through a paper towel.
Chop the mushrooms and add to the sausage.
Add the chestnuts. Season with salt.
Add some of the chestnut soaking water.
Break up the chestnuts a little with a spatula.
Cook for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, uncovered, adding more of the mushroom soaking liquid as needed.
Drain the pasta about 1 minute before it is al dente and then add the pasta to the sauce.
Cook the pasta in the sauce for the final minute, stirring to allow the flavors to marry, adding more mushroom soaking water as needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.
Serve at once on preheated plates, garnished with a bit of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.
Scallops gratin with almonds is a great looking and great tasting appetizer, very suitable for a dinner party with great effect for relatively little effort. The sweet creamy shallots work wonderfully with the crispy nutty almonds and meaty slightly sweet scallop. You can prepare it in advance and just pop it in the oven for 10 minutes before serving.