Sunday, August 25, 2013

Puttanesca Pasta Night

Recently our friends Carole and Jim came to Colorado for their vacation.  They ended their trip here in Longmont for three days of fast paced sight seeing.  Since moving here we have been busy with school, work, kids, sports, etc.. and really had not made time for our own touring at all.  Now was the perfect opportunity to take in the sights with our friends and experience it first hand with them.
My new favorite store - Cheese Importers in Longmont.

Gourmet jams and chocolates!!
Some of the highlights were "Cheese Importers" Artisan Cheese and Specialty Foods on Main Street in Longmont.  What a precious and unique cheese boutique.  Their cheese, olives and meats room is refrigerated, so you wear one of their importer coats to the walk in cold room.  The most expansive selection of fine foods I have ever seen....and if you are into specialty dishes, serving platters and tea towels, this is your place.

We also toured the historic Stanley Hotel, which opened in June 1909.  Beautiful old buildings and architecture.  Many movies have been filmed here at the hotel which is in Estes Park, right outside the Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
After a long weekend of touring I thought I would make one of our favorite crock pot dishes that we could come home to.  Carole's Italian background always has Sunday night pasta for family.  Coincidentally my husband's all time favorites is his brother-in-law Joe's (passed down from sister JoAnne) Puttanesca. (I told you my husband came from a large family - it gets confusing trying to remember who gave what recipe when....) I think every family member has their own spin on this recipe, but this is my version that I have been using for years.

Of course when my (future) husband and I met, I had to get this pasta sauce perfect before he would marry me...well, not really, but it definitely helped!  I always double the recipe for him, as he cannot get enough of it for leftovers during the week.

Perfect Puttanesca for Pasta Night
Inspired by Jody Mac
(Serves 4) Recommend To Double

1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup Chopped Onion
4 Garlic Cloves, chopped or minced
1/2 tsp. Dried Red Pepper Flakes
1- 28 oz. can Italian Crushed Tomatoes (do not drain)
1/2 ts. Salt
12 Kalamata Olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
7 Anchovy Fillets, drained and coarsely chopped
3 Tbl. Capers, drained
1 Small Can Tomato Paste
5 - Italian Sausages, medium spice

1 - 16 oz. Box Penne Pasta

Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and pepper flakes.  Cook until garlic is lightly colored, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes. In crock pot, add the crushed tomatoes, salt, olives, anchovy fillets, capers, tomato paste and the cooked onion mixture. Stir well in crock pot.

In a same skillet that you cooked the onions, garlic and pepper flakes, add the sausages and lightly sear on medium-high heat for a couple minutes on each side.  Add the sausages to the sauce in crock pot, making sure they are well covered.  Cover pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  The longer you can let it cook and simmer up those flavors, the better it will be.

Right before serving, cook the penne pasta accordingly to package directions.  Serve in a pasta bowl and add the puttanesca sauce, sausage and fresh cheese.

We enjoyed this with a crusty baguette and opened the perfect bottle of McManis Zinfandel.

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