Spaghetti a la Michelle

No matter the question, pasta is the answer. Bad day at work? Pasta. Too tired to cook? Pasta. Picky eater on your hands? Pasta!

There are as many ways to cook pasta as there are varieties of noodles – but it all starts out with a nice, hot saltwater bath. So bring some water to a boil. It’s about to be on.

You are getting hungry, very hungry.

You are getting hungry, very hungry.

Full disclosure: This spaghetti is not spaghetti at all. Your cooks are big fans of lots of stuff in their pasta sauce, as you’ll soon see. And spaghetti (or linguine or angel hair) can’t really stand up to the task of getting the goods safely in our gullets. So we use something with some grooves, shorter pastas that will pick up all the delicious, saucy bits. Tonight, we are using penne.

Eat me!

Eat me!

Here’s a good rule of thumb – when making a smooth sauce, such as marinara or alfredo, use smooth pasta. Otherwise, get something with a little body to it.

Now – to the meat! Tonight we are using mild Italian turkey sausage, because for some inexplicable reason, the hot sausage was nearly $3 more expensive. No matter. Cook the sausage – about one pound – in a bit of water over medium high heat until the sausages are no longer pink and the water is all but gone.

Keep rotating them over the hot spots.

Keep rotating them over the hot spots.

In the meantime, start chopping one green pepper and half an onion.

Try not to cry.

Try not to cry.

When the sausages are cooked through, remove them from the pan and let them rest for a few minutes. Rinse out the pan and return to the stove over medium heat. Add a touch of olive oil and the chopped onions and peppers. Add one clove of minced garlic (more if you’re partial to the fresh stuff) and a few shakes of crushed red peppers for heat. Let all these ingredients get soft and tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the veggies sweat, start slicing up the sausage – anyway you please. Add the pieces back to the pan (preferably before you eat the majority of them).

Now it’s time for sauce. Your cooks have a lot to say about bottled pasta sauce. This is the hands down favorite. But it’s awfully high in sodium. And sometimes you just have to go with what’s on sale.

Which is what we did.

You could also make your own thick and hearty sauce by adding to the pan:

  • 1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup vegetable, chicken or beef broth, or water

And letting it all cook together for about 20 minutes.

Right about now, your pasta should be looking pretty plump. When it’s tender, drain and add it to the sauce.

Stir in the noodles for yummy goodness.

Stir it up!

Now, let’s just pause here for a second. You might have noticed that your cooks are using a very nice cast iron skillet. At this point in the game, there’s nothing stopping them from smothering this whole dish in some mozzarella cheese and popping it the oven for a few minutes to heat through, letting the cheesy get all bubbly. Nothing, that is, except for the rumblings of their stomachs.

So we continue as is. Serve pasta by the bowlful topped with Parmesan cheese. If you’re interested in things like vegetables and nutrition, a nice mixed green salad would round out this meal. On the other hand, a good loaf of bread, with some olive oil for dipping, would push it into a whole new dimension.


Now, why is this spaghetti a la Michelle? Simply because one of your cooks has the tendency to start every recipe, including macaroni and cheese, tuna salad, every soup known to man and also every omelet, with green peppers and onions, a habit she picked up from her mother. Can you guess which cook that is?

Makes 4 monstrous servings

  • 1 lb. box of short pasta, penne is recommended
  • 1 lb. hot, Italian-style  turkey sausage
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • 24 ounces tomato sauce (either one large jar from the store or about 3 cups of homemade sauce)

Bring water to a boil in large pot. Salt and cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook sausage in 1/8 inch of water in a large pan until no pink remains. Remove sausage from pan and let cool. Rinse pan and add oil, onion, green pepper, crushed red pepper and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until all are tender.

While onion and peppers cook, slice the sausage and return to the pan. Add tomato sauce.

Once pasta is cooked, drain and add to sauce, stirring until all ingredients are well combined.

Serve pasta by the bowlful, topped with Parmesan cheese. This meal is excellent with thick, crusty bread or a nice salad of mixed greens, dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar.



Filed under Dinner

3 responses to “Spaghetti a la Michelle

  1. Mom

    I’m glad you paid attention to what I taught you about cooking!

  2. Dave Brooks

    Two-thirds of the Cajun holy trinity of bell pepper, onion and celery.

    Joe Mama might have told you the peppers-and-onions thing. My mama told me:
    A) You gotta shop around (presumably at Wegman’s), and B) when you’re making a multi-egg concoction, crack each egg into a small dish/bowl and then once you know it’s not rotten, then dump it into the mother lode. Sucks royally to have, say, five eggs in a bowl and then the sixth one is putrid — out they all go. Minutae, perhaps, but it’s my mama’s legacy. And because this (wonderful) blog is all about thrifty home cooking, you don’t want to be wasteful.

  3. michykeen

    Interesting. I’ve never, ever, ever cracked open a bad egg, but I will take your advice under consideration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s