Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Turkey Sausage
Pasta and sausage is a combination that is probably not new to most people. The challenge is that I need to make the dish accommodate both the vegetarians and meat eaters in my house.
To this end, I separately grilled tofurkey (mock turkey made of tofu) and apple turkey sausages and mixed them into two batches of homemade sun-dried tomato pesto sauce.
Yields: 6 servings1 (16-ounce) package fusilli pasta
4 tofu turkey sausages
4 apple turkey sausages
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ cup cashew nuts, dry roasted, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, coarsely chopped
1-½ tablespoons tomato paste
1-½ teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
½ cup olive oil, as needed
3 tablespoons fresh dill
Prepping the shallots and sun-dried tomatoes:
Finely mince the shallots. Reserve one raw and caramelize the rest.
Heat the olive oil in a small pan. Sauté the shallots with the red chili flakes (if used) in the oil over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the shallots from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown and the shallots are tender. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the caramelized shallots. Add the sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt. Turn off the heat. Transfer to a platter.
How to make sun-dried tomato pesto:
In a mini-food processor or mini-blender, combine the sun-dried tomato and caramelized shallot mixture, herbes de Provence, raw shallots, tomato paste, 1 clove of garlic, chopped cashew nuts, and 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese. Pulse, add 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and slowly add about 1/3 cup (or more) of olive oil until it becomes a thick paste. Season with salt and pepper.
For the turkey sausage:
Prick both kinds of sausages using a fork.
With a brush, grease a cast iron skillet grill (a regular frying pan would work but you won't get the nice grill marks) and heat until it's really hot, almost at the smoking point. Place the tofurkey sausages in the pan. Roll the sausages using tongs and brown each side of them for about 1-½ minutes (a total of about 9 minutes) until golden. Remove from the pan.
Repeat the same procedure with the apple turkey sausages.
Cut both kinds of sausages into ½-inch slices. Transfer to two separate bowls. Set aside.
For the fusilli pasta:
Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a full boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta is cooked all the way through evenly. Cook the pasta for about 12 minutes total. Salt the water half way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and the pasta will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so that the pasta does not stick to the bottom. It may take longer than the cooking time that is written on the box. When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), Reserve about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). Set aside in a colander.
In a large sauté pan (a large wok, heat the rest of the oil. Add a clove of garlic and cook until slightly golden. Add the fusilli pasta. Toss the pasta by shaking the pan for about 2-3 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Add the sun-dried tomato pesto and tomato sauce. Toss for another 2 minutes until all the pasta is coated with sauce. Add more red wine vinegar and the remaining caramelized shallots. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of dill and 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese. Check seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. Transfer to two large serving platters. Add the sausages (apple turkey or tofurkey) and parmesan; garnish with the remaining dill.
I buy tofu turkey sausage at Trader Joe's. I love the texture of the tofurkey. I also love apple turkey sausage, which I buy at Costco. The key is to brown the sausage; it creates a textural contrast and develops the flavor of the sausage.
I added parmesan cheese for a subtle saltiness. You could also add soy bacon bits as well for a stronger flavor.
Herbes de Provence is a combination of herbs originating from the Mediterranean region. They're ideal for grilled meat, roasted vegetables, tomato sauce and ratatouille. You can create your own if you have the following ingredients: savory, fennel, basil, thyme, rosemary and lavender.
If you don't have shallots, you could caramelize onions instead. Frying shallots is pretty easy but time consuming. I also often have fried onions on hand in the freezer. So make them in advance by frying shallots in large batches to save time.February 22, 2010.