Saturday Dinner: Orechiette with Sausage, Beans, and Mascarpone

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This was originally going to be dinner last Thursday night.

As I may have previously mentioned, I have a cold that has lingered since right after Labor Day. It’s like the friend who crashes on your couch. You anticipate it will be around for 5, 6, or 7 days, but six weeks later, there it is.

It started innocuously enough as a sinus thing, but moved to my chest. Given my propensity to developing bronchitis, I kept an eye on things but there was never a sign of infection (fever, weird-colored phlegm, lethargy, whining) so I kept on going. With the adrenaline and willed/borrowed energy from the past weeks of Walk To End Alzheimer’s events long burned off, I hit the wall. Thursday night, I came home from work and fall asleep on the couch. When The Wife and The Kid arrived, I informed my betrothed that she was in FFH mode. Fend For Herself. The kitchen, as well as I, was closed. I finally broke down on Friday and went to the doctor and acquired some medication, though the doctor has no clue whether it is viral or bacterial. The amoxicillin seems to be doing something, but I’m not sure if its for real or just mental (like everything else in my life).

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So, back to my original point. I’m sick and I didn’t cook on Thursday. On Friday, The In-Laws offered their childcare services, so on Saturday we had them over for dinner. Dinner for four. Easy. On Saturday nights, The Wife’s aunt will often come over for dinner. Dinner for five. Easy.

Right before I started cooking, my aunt came over to see The Kid and mentioned in passing that her own dinner plans fell through. Dinner for six. Easy.

Easy because this dish is very scalable. The recipe calls for fractional cups of mascarpone, but the cheese is sold in 1 cup portions. Sausage is sold by the pound. Pasta? I have more pasta on hand right now than ever. Dinner for two can become dinner for six without much effort.

WHAT WORKED: Cheese and grease. Together, the sausage runoff and mascarpone make for a flavorful, creamy sauce that keeps everything coated without soaking the pasta in grease.

WHAT DIDN’T: Not being able to taste anything makes cooking and adjusting spices an interesting foray.

WHAT DID EVERYONE SAY: People seemed to enjoy things.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: It already has. I ended up with a bunch of leftovers.

IMG_5581Orechiette with Sausage, Beans, and Mascarpone
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

  • 1 pound orechiette pasta
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb. Italian sausage, mild or hot (I bought patties. If you buy links, remove the casings.)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry marsala wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

IMG_5579In the meantime, heat a large, heavy skillet on a medium-high burner. Warm until it begins to shimmer. Add sausage and onions and, using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage into bite-sized pieces as it browns.

IMG_5585Continue cooking until the sausage is golden and the onions are tender. Add the beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add pasta water and marsala. Stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the mascarpone cheese and stir until it dissolved into a light sauce. Add the salt, pepper, and hot pasta. Stir until coated and serve.

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