Hi there! I struggled a bit with what my first post should be before finally deciding I needed to grow a pair and just dive right on in. “They” say that this post will set the tone for the rest of my blog, and yeah, they’re totally right – so what IS my purpose here? Well, it’s about living the good life, a simple life. I like tradition, especially slowing down and enjoying what’s in front of us, something we ALL need to do more often. Showing appreciation for the good things in life is my goal for this blog. And something I’m thankful for? Sundays. So here we go. 🙂
What I love about Sundays…lazy mornings, bacon and eggs for breakfast, and of course, the traditional Sunday dinner.
When I was growing up, my mom usually worked late during the week, so we didn’t always have sit-down dinners. Sundays were a different story though. We frequently had picnics, eating smoked chops out in the yard during lazy summer nights. I’m also from a big old Italian family on my dad’s side, and once a week, my dad and I would have spaghetti dinners with my grandmother and great-grandmother, Bubbie and Nana. We had Spaghetti Wednesday, which was just like a Sunday dinner, but a treat in the middle of the week.
These dinners are one of my favorite memories from childhood, and probably one of the memories that shaped me the most as an adult.
Now, I’m “all grown up,” and my husband (Rusty) and I both work full-time, so we usually end up eating in front of the TV during the week while watching The Middle and Modern Family (the absolute perfect cure for a long work day – hilarious and relatable). But on Sundays, I reach back to those picnic and pasta dinners, and we make the time to sit down and have a meal together.
It’s a twice-as-nice tradition for me because my Nana’s dining room set now sits in my dining room. We’re talking about 50+ years of meals that happened at this table, and a bunch of Italian-Americans who sat around rubbing their bellies and drinking coffee after eating too much pasta.
I was feeling something fresh and comforting for tonight’s dinner, so I whipped up a sausage and shrimp linguine dish with fresh herbs and tomatoes. It took about 40 minutes to put everything together, and a good chunk of that time was spent trying to get my pasta water to boil (why do stovetops come with only ONE larger burner?! Why can’t it be split 50/50?).
Also, please note, I was taught to cook by people who did not measure their seasonings. Everything went by look, smell, and taste – it’s not weird to be handed a recipe card by someone in my family, and have the dish turn out completely different than the original because key ingredients were left off. I’ll try my best, but trust your own tastebuds!
Sausage and Shrimp Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes – serves 4
- 8 small cloves of garlic, sliced
- 6 roma tomatoes, cut into long strips of flesh
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 2 large Italian-flavored sausage links, cut into pieces
- 15-20 individual pre-cooked cocktail shrimp, tails removed
- 3 tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
- half a box of pasta (I prefer linguini)
- salt and pepper
- cayenne pepper
- red pepper flakes
- onion powder
- garlic salt
- sweet basil
- fresh oregano (dry works, too)
- parmesan cheese for topping
Step 1: In a large sauté pan (I used a stainless steel All-Clad French Skillet, which is by far my favorite in the kitchen), heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Toss in sausage and garlic, and sauté until sausage is brown and beginning to cook through. Add shrimp, and salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and about 6 fresh oregano leaves to get you started on your seasoning. Toss frequently so meat cooks evenly.
Step 2: Once shrimp has curled and sausage is cooked almost through, toss in diced red pepper. Let cook until the pepper begins to soften, about five minutes.
Step 3: Put your water on to boil the pasta. You’ll let the pasta cook while you finish the first part of the dish.
In the skillet, add your sliced tomatoes. Add an additional tbsp of olive oil if you see it’s getting low. You’ll want enough “sauce” to coat your pasta later. If you like butter over olive oil, throw in a tab. It’s up to you!
At this point, I also added more seasoning. I taste-tested a piece of shrimp, and decided it wasn’t flavorful enough. I added red pepper flakes and sweet basil until the dish looked pretty – no seriously, that’s how I judged. Then I added about a half teaspoon each of garlic salt and onion powder to give it more flavor. I really like seasoning! If you want to give this dish more of a kick, add more cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. My hubs loves his pasta spicy, but I don’t, so I limited it.
Step 4: Keep stirring your tomatoes into the dish until they are soft and turn the olive-oil based sauce red and creamy. You’re basically making a skillet spaghetti sauce without using a jar of the pre-packaged stuff! Let the tomatoes cook down – this is what your result should look like right before your ready to add your pasta:
Step 5: Your pasta should be well on it’s way to being done! Drain, and then dump right into your skillet – I tossed mine right there, one less pan to wash! If your skillet isn’t large enough, placed the drained pasta back in it’s stockpot, and add the contents of your skillet to it to toss.
Tip: while draining your pasta, save a bit of the starchy water. If you find your sauce is too thin, you can always use some of the water to thicken it up. I know it sounds weird to add water to thicken up a sauce, but it works (Physics? God? The spirit of Italian Nonnies everywhere blessing our food? No idea).
Once you’ve got it mixed all pretty, dump the contents into a serving bowl. Don’t worry if you splatter – just wiped the edges clean, ha. You also can add another pinch of basil to the top for garnish, or sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
This is what our dish looked like when it was done and ready to serve:
And an up-close shot right before I stuffed my face:
This was a winner-winner-chicken-dinner in our house tonight. Rusty had commented that it would be even better with sweet, fresh tomatoes from our garden. I can’t wait until July! We usually make a similar dish in the summer, which is a meatless version with fresh basil we also grow. Sometimes I add lemon to that one. This is a pretty versatile dish, and I encourage you to make it your own for, perhaps, a Sunday dinner?
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoy!