Spaghetti, Vermicelli, Bucatini, Fusilli, Manicotti, Garganelli, Rigatoni...when it comes to pasta noodles, the types are endless. One of my favorite aisles in the grocery store is the past section because I love to peruse all the different options and think about recipes that I can create using various types of pastas. The last time I was in the pasta aisle, I recently picked up a box of Gemelli noodles since I haven't cooked with them in a very long time.
One of my favorite dishes to experiment with is pasta. The best thing about pasta is that you can always change up the sauces, spices, herbs, meats, and vegetables and have a final dish that explodes with flavor with each and every bite. After perusing the pasta section, I stopped by the meat department and grabbed Italian sausage, made my way through the dairy section to pick up cheeses and cream, and found myself in the produce section with bundles of asparagus in my hands.
Even though my favorite sauce for pasta is tomato-based, I wanted to experiment with a white sauce that I recently saw in a food magazine. The scent that filled the air as the sausage and onions simmered together was heavenly. I mixed in all the cheeses and cream which only to the already delicious aroma. Once the aroma traveled over to my husband who was patiently waiting on the couch, he immediately grew interested in my little experiment on the stovetop.
Once all was said and done, the end result was this delicious pasta filled with asparagus and sausage wrapped in a creamy white sauce. Thankfully, the recipe made a lot of servings because I was able to enjoy this dish for lunch and dinner yesterday.
Gemelli with Asparagus and Sausage in a Ricotta Cheese Sauce
- 2 bunches of small or medium asparagus
- 1 lb gemelli
- 1 lb bulk Italian sausage
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 10 fresh basil leaves (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season water with salt.
- Cut top 2 inches from asparagus stalks and add into boiling water. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until just tender. Remove asparagus from water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cold water bath.
- Bring asparagus water to a boil again. Add pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Remove pasta with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Reserve the pasta water.
- Heat a large skillet and cook the sausage and onion until meat is browned and onions are tender. Drain the fat. Add asparagus tips, cream, and salt; simmer for 2 minutes. Add pasta to the skillet. Add Ricotta, ground black pepper, 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.
- Toss pasta in the skillet until all of the ingredients are combined.
- Add Parmigiana-Regiano and toss again.
- Transfer pasta to a serving dish and garnish with basil.
What is your favorite vegetable to add into a pasta dish?
*Recipe adapted from Better Home and Gardens September 2011 Issue