Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta

Serves 4
1/2 lb. Pappardelle Pasta
2 1/4 lbs. of red and yellow sweet bell peppers
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small red or white onion, chopped
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 lbs fresh cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used only 1 pint)
5 fresh basil leaves, torn
2 pinches Sea salt
1 cup Mamma Agata's Tomato Sauce (See Below)

Prepare Mamma Agata's Tomato Sauce

Wash the peppers and remove the stems. Cut each pepper in half and remove and discard the seeds from inside the peppers.  Slice the peppers lenghwise, but not too thin and not to thick.

Saute the peppers in peanut oil for ten to fifteen minutes until soft.  This makes them easier to digest and also brings out the flavor.  Once the peppers are cooked, place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Wipe out the pan and add the butter and olive oil to it.  Once melted add the chopped onion and cook until golden brown.  Remove the onion to a small bowl.  Add the sausage to the pan and cook and sear on all sides.  When nicely browned return the onion to the pan, prick the sausage all over to release the juices and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the peppers to the pan, lifting the sausage so that it is sitting on top of them.  Add the cherry tomatoes, torn basil leaves, salt and the tomato sauce.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook the mixture for 30 minutes.  When done remove the sausage and cut it into rounds and return to the sauce.

Cook the pasta according to package directions to just the al dente stage.  Drain and add it to the pan with the sauce and cook gently for about 2 minutes to marry the flavors.  Serve in bowls topped with shaved Parmesan.

MAMMA AGATA'S TOMATO SAUCE

1 quart of vine-ripened roma tomatoes, pureed
10 fresh cherry tomatoes
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of fresh garlic
3 fresh basil leaves

Mamma Agata's Secret
The Roma tomatoes used to make this sauce should be vine-ripened so they are sweet.  Sweet tomatoes are the key ingredient in many Italian dishes.  If the tomatoes are not ripe and sweet, we recommend adding a spoonful of sugar to sweeten the sauce.

Add the olive oil, garlic and basil to a large saucepan.  NOTE: When you add the olive oil, garlic and basil to the pan, do so all at the same time.  Do not heat the oil first, then add the garlic and basil to the pan, but rather place all three ingredients into the pan at room temperature and then heat the pan.

Heat the ingredients over a high flame to release the natural oils contained in the fresh garlic, greatly enhancing the flavors of the tomato sauce.  Be careful not to allow the garlic to burn or the oil to smoke.  If this happens, you must throw it out and start over.  The garlic and oil should only be on the high flame for one to two minutes before proceeding to the next step.

When the temperature of the oil begins to rise, add the tomato puree and fresh vine-ripened cherry tomatoes to the pan.  Be careful not to burn yourself or let the oil or tomatoes splash on you.  You should hear a nice sizzling sound and soon you'll enjoy a wonderful aroma from the fragrant ingredients releasing the oils and combining.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 30 to 45 minutes.  MY NOTE:  My sauce was a little thin so I added about 1/2 of a jar of a purchased spaghetti sauce (Rao's Marinara Sauce).

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