Warm Sunshine Sausage Pasta Salad

As promised, we’ll update you as we eat our 1/7th of a hog. There’s two recipes + photos coming, once I can get my camera & computer to stop acting up. However, I figured I’d post Sunday night’s dinner, as I’m pretty sure I didn’t take any photos of it. After all, I was just throwing it together to feed three people (Bill, a last-minute guest and I).

So, here’s the deal. Saturday Bill and I were trying to vacuum seal all our pork up. Vacuum sealing really helps keep foods a great deal longer in the freezer, in my experience, and so I really wanted to get on it. Unfortunately, my vacuum sealer is acting like a jerk, so we only managed to vacuum seal a few things. The “sunshine sausage” (as it shall henceforth be called) was not on the list.

Sunshine sausage is labeled “laganega” on the recipes Dylan left for us. Unfortunately, google has never heard of this term. It has heard of “luganega”, and that might be what we made, but it’s a little unclear. Ours definitely has plenty of orange & lemon zest, as well as some juice (I think). It’s like a weird explosion of sausage & sunshine in your mouth.

Come Sunday night, Bill & I were exhausted from our day at the market and we took a long nap. When we woke up, I was crabby and Bill was trying to tease me into good humor. Then a friend posted to Twitter about also being crabby, and Bill invited her over to have dinner & play games.

Smart man, that one. Suddenly, no one was crabby and dinner was coming. Of course no one was crabby! We were going to eat sunshine sausage!

Ingredients:

Note: All quantities are total approximations, except the tortellini. I’m sure of that amount for obvious reasons.

1/2 lb sunshine sausage
1 package R & T’s smoked mozzarella tortellini
1 lb asparagus
6 fat radishes
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

Invite your friend Nikki over for food, drink and games. Suddenly stress out about what to feed her. Decide on sunshine sausage & tortellini. Figure you’ll dig through the fridge for veggies to go with that.

Quick thaw the sausage in a bowl of cold water with a trickle of water flowing in and out. Fire up the grill. Remark upon how sad you are that you have to return it to your friend Rob (of the awesome cuff) tomorrow, but plan to buy a grill tomorrow as well1.

Commence digging through your fridge to figure out what to to grill as well. Realize that you have the last of the season’s asparagus, and that you’ve yet to have grilled asparagus. Decide this is a travesty, and pull out all the asparagus to grill. Then pull out the radishes, because you’ve been told that “heat mellows them out a lot” and you’ve already experienced this to be true in butter poaching & stir-frying them. Conclude that’s enough veggies.

Answer the door & let Nikki in. Be delighted in her delight that you are preparing sausage and asparagus.

Give the stuff to be grilled to the grill master (in this case, Bill). That person will grill the sausage over indirect heat, and the veggies over direct heat. They will also wonder how to tell when a radish is fully grilled.

While the grill master is grilling, set up a pan to boil the tortellini. Try to time it well. When appropriate, or so you think, boil the tortellini until they’re puffy, floating, and fabulous looking. Drain them & toss them with the olive oil to keep ‘em from sticking.

When the grilled components come off the grill, slice them up. Yelp a lot while trying to slice grilled radishes. Use a paper towel as a heat pad to get them sliced.

Toss the sliced sausage, asparagus and radishes with the pasta and olive oil. Add more olive oil if you feel you need it. Then devour while discussing your life’s events since the last time you saw your pal Nikki.

Cooking and Consumption Notes

Cooking:

This is, in fact, a pretty straightforward dish. But a few tips are in order.

It’s really hard to tell when a radish is grilled through. I suggest that if you want it cooked all the way through, get a nice layer of char on all sides. We didn’t have quite that, and the thinner radishes were cooked all the way through, but the fattest ones were not.

Assuming you want a hot pasta salad, I would boil the water for the pasta & keep it warm, but I wouldn’t boil the pasta until the things are coming off the grill. My tortellini was done way too soon, and kind of collapsed in on itself. It was still pretty tasty, but would have been much nicer piping hot out of the water.

Consumption:

Bill felt the sausage was overcooked (a little dry), so would have preferred to take the sausage off the heat a touch sooner. I thought it was okay, but do be careful in that. Dry sausage would not have improved this dish.

Olive oil was not a sufficient dressing for this pasta. It really needed some sort of acidic tang to bring it all together. Bill’s thinking lemon juice, to make the citrus of the sausage really pop. I’m leaning toward red wine vinegar, but I don’t have a good reason why. I just think it might work.

Note there’s no salt added in this dish. It probably could have used some, as that would also have helped the flavors meld. Really, I wonder if some sort of light herbing would have helped. We have a “Mediterranean Fleur de Sel” that Bill’s mother gave us. I bet that would have made this awesome.

Anyway, the point? Try some spices if you want to make this dish go from “pretty yummy” to “awesome”. You might take a detour through “GROSS!”, but that’s the sacrifices that must happen in a kitchen.

Hog notes:

This dish served three with no leftovers.


1 To be really true to this recipe, you have to get so lost in what you’re doing “tomorrow” that you don’t leave the house until you absolutely must to get the grill (and his car) back to Rob and still get to Nikki’s house for food & games at a reasonable hour.