"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pasta with Summer Vegetables and Mild Italian Sausage

Today, I was inspired to cook something fresh and delicious by two super fabulous women and (lucky for me!) dear friends of mine: Meagan and Sujata.  Why are these women fabulous you may ask? Well, they are kind, sweet, funny, and very generous.  In addition, they have some amazing urban gardens right in their backyards.  And, the best part (and why I love them most - chuckling!) is that they share their treasures, which give me some great culinary inspirations.  Tonight's meal at my home was made partly with ingredients from Meagan and Sujata's gardens.

Meagan has grown the largest Zucchinis that I have ever seen personally. She gave me two of them today. I was so excited when she gave them to me because, besides the fact that they were huge, I think Zucchinis are very versatile. You can make savory and sweet dishes out of Zucchinis. 

Last week, Sujata gave me some vegetables from her garden, including some beautiful heirloom tomatoes.  Heirloom tomatoes are my favorite tomatoes on earth.  I have been using the ones from Sujata in salads the past few days.  I am lucky that Sujata is my next door neighbor.  Her garden is one of the most gorgeous gardens I have seen. She has all kinds of vegetables and fruit trees in there.  I appreciate that she has shared a lot of her vegetables with us.  Thank you! 

For dinner tonight, I decided to make pasta with mild Italian sausage and fresh summer vegetables.  This dish included the Zucchinis from Meagan, which I diced and added to the pasta with some bell peppers, onions, garlic, and fresh diced tomatoes.  The pasta also included chopped fresh basil from Sujata's garden.  (Sujata was kind enough to let me cut a few leaves to put in my pasta).  I love fresh basil in pasta.  It is nicely fragrant, gives some freshness to pasta dishes, and lightens up the dish a bit.  With the pasta, we had a mixed green salad, which also included some of the heirloom tomatoes from Sujata's garden.  I still have 1/2 of a tomato left, which will give me another salad tomorrow.  This really is like neighbors feeding neighbors.

Here is the recipe for the pasta, if you are interested in trying it out:

Pasta with Summer Vegetables and Mild Italian Sausage


1 box of pasta (Penne, Elbow, or Bow Tie Pasta would work great), cooked according to package.
1 package of Mild Italian Sausage (or about 12-16 ounces), crumbled. [You can also use chicken or shrimp, or make it vegetarian, if you don't eat or like sausage/pork.]
1 medium red onion, diced.
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced.
1/2 each of red and yellow or orange bell pepper (or whatever color you have on hand).
2 cups of fresh chopped Zucchini.
1 cup of fresh tomatoes - large cubes/chunks (can be cherry, heirloom, or whichever you have).
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
1/2 teaspoon of Italian Seasonings.
Salt and fresh ground black pepper.
1/4 dry white wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, whatever you have on hand).
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream.
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil.
1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley.


Cook the pasta, according to package instructions.  When cooked, remove about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and set it aside.  Then, drain the pasta and set it aside.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Brown the sausage until there is no pink left.  [If using chicken or shrimp, brown until cooked through.]  When cooked, remove from heat and set aside on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.  Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the onions, bell peppers, and zucchini until soft (but not mushy).  Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant and soft (about 4 minutes).  Lower the heat to Low.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Return the sausage back to the pan with the sauteed vegetables.  Add the Italian Seasonings and mix.  Add the wine and let it simmer until the wine evaporates.  Then, add the heavy whipping cream. Stir to mix.  Add the pasta to the sauce.  Mix well.  Add the tomatoes and mix.  If the pasta is a bit dry, add some of the pasta water (a little bit at a time until you have it moist enough to your liking).  Stir in some grated Parmesan cheese, the basil and parsley. Mix and serve.   

If you are in the mood for a glass of wine, this dish would go well with any medium-bodied red wine (like a nice Pinot Noir or Chianti).  If you are a white wine drinker, any nice Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc would be a great accompaniment. 

For us, we decided to try a glass of Pinot Noir (Los Carneros, 2009) from one of our wine club shipments (Robledo Family Winery, Sonoma, CA http://robledofamilywinery.com/).  This wine was spectacular.  It was awarded a Gold Medal (95 points) at the 2012 California State Fair.  After trying it tonight, I can see why.  In the glass, the wine has a beautifully deep garnet red color.  After you give it a swirl in the glass and hold it up to your nose, you will be hit with aromas of ripe cherry and spices (like cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla).  The wine also has a nice mild earthy aroma.  On the palate, your mouth explodes with wonderful flavors of dark cherries, a little bit of oak, and spice.  The wine has been aged in French Oak for 10 months, which gives it some subtle and soft tannins, and a smooth finish.  It was a perfect pairing with a delicious dish.

I dedicate today's post to my friends Meagan and Sujata.  Thank you for your generosity!  I hope your gardens continue to produce abundant fruits and vegetables so that you will always have enough to share with me. -:)

Until next time . . . Cheers!



  1. It was very delicious. I very love it. Thank you so much again for making wonderful dinner

  2. Thank you, Ten. I love sharing these meals with you.