Quick and Easy Shortcut Meals
On some nights, I am all about quick and easy meals where I take shortcuts but still turn out a delicious dinner. Last night was one of those meals. I have been playing around with different cuts of pasta to try by finding imported quality manufacturers on Amazon.com.
Typically I make my own sauces from scratch but I sometimes I save time and effort by buying commercial sauces and doctoring them up.
While doing a search on Amazon.com for sauces, I came across the Scarpetta line of Italian sauces and found their reviews were pretty good. I know what you are saying,
"How can RG being using jarred sauce when it is so easy to make your own incredible homemade tomato sauce so easily?"
You are right but there are nights when I don't want to fuss or I waited a little too long to start dinner or I just feel a bit lazy. I'm sure we have all felt this way and I would rather make one of my quick and easy shortcut meals rather than ordering a pizza.
Scarpetta sauces come from a company called Sauces'n Love up 10 miles north of Boston. The Scarpetta line, according to their web site, is "Influenced by modern Italian style and inspired by the signature Ferrari red race car"¦ introduced in 2004 with a clean and sexy image"
"Scarpetta, which means "little shoe" in Italian, is what you are doing when you drag the bread across the plate to enjoy the last flavorful bite. In Italy, we ask to do it at the table as a way to compliment the host or cook - and as a politesse.
Posso fare la scarpetta?"
I ordered the Scarpetta Pasta Lovers Gift Box containing 4 jars of sauces including Marinara, Tuscan Vodka, Arrabbiata and Puttanesca. Being a fan of Bolognese sauce, I also purchased a 4 pack of Barely Bolognese. I'll write more about Sauces' n Love and these sauces in the future as I try them.
Scarpetta Barely Bolognese
The Scarpetta Barely Bologneseis a foundation sauce that you add to make a finished sauce. It contains "a trilogy of carrots celery and onions cooked with tomatoes and fresh sage; all you have to do is add ground meat, tofu or a veggie argue." I thought I had some ground beef in the refrigerator. I was wrong but I did have some Andouille sausage in the freezer that was easy to defrost.
When I opened the very cool, reusable, microwaveable plastic containers and tasted the sauce, I immediately thought of fresh salsa. I thought no way this is going to taste like a bolognese sauce I'm familiar with but I would give it a try. I noticed the carrots were perfectly cut to brunoise, a very fine dice cut that makes for great presentation. The tomatoes tasted fresh and the label says the product is all-natural, gluten free with no sugar added. But how is it going to taste?
When I prepare my own homemade bolognese sauce, I use a mixture of ground beef, veal, pork and sometimes lamb. I'm guessing that using Andouille would disqualify this sauce as Bolognese but it's what I had on hand.
Andouille sausage is sometimes referred to as "hot link sausage" and it did add quite a kick to this sauce. For those of you who enjoy a spicy, hot sauce, you are going to like this one. If you don't like it so hot, I'm sure it would be delicious with sweet sausage too.
Andouille (ahn-DoOO-wee) is a Cajun style smoked sausage made with pork parts and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, onions and some additional seasonings depending on whose making it. It originated in France and is said to have come from the Brittany and Normandy areas.
A triangular quill-shaped pasta about the size of penne with ridges on the outside making it great for chunky sauces like Bolognese where the sauce can get trapped in the ridges. They are cut into tubes about 2 and ½ inches and are hollow.
You are not going to find Trenne in your local supermarket but can find it on line or at some specialty gourmet stores.
I found a brand called Rustichella selling it on Amazon along with many other interesting and hard to find dried pastas. Handmade in Italy using only the finest stone-ground durum flour from hard winter wheat and local spring water,
Rustichella's pastas are air dried for a full 56 hours and extruded from bronze dies, some dating back to the 19th century. Again, I'll be writing more about Rustichella and their pastas as I explore using them.
The Trenne pasta we tried last night was delicious but it did take a long time to cook. It appeared thicker and heavier than classic penne but worked perfectly with the faux Bolognese.
Yes, I am an affiliate at Amazon.com and I do appreciate when you start at the Reluctant Gourmet to make your Amazon purchases, but I have to tell you I am really enjoying the Amazon Prime feature where you pay a flat fee (I think it is between $70 and $80 bucks) and receive Free 2 Day shipping on anything they sell excluding third party sales.
I can order one package of pasta and a package of sauce any time without worrying about the shipping cost and you receive it two days later. If you purchase a lot of books and stuff from Amazon, it's a good deal.
I know I will be experimenting with a lot more gourmet items they carry knowing I can exclude the shipping expense.
Spicy Trenne Pasta Bolognese Recipe
- 3 links Andouille sausage can be substituted with ground beef, sweet sausage, ground beef/veal/pork combo
- 1 package Rustichella Trenne can be substituted penne pasta
- 19.8 Ounce Jar Scarpetto Barely Bolognese can be substituted with any commercial sauce you like
- Parmesan cheese Freshly grated, to taste
- salt for cooking pasta
- Start by adding some salt to a large pot of water and bringing it to a boil for cooking the pasta.See my cooking pasta tips
- Remove the Andouille sausage meat from the casing and brown the meat in a good sized sauce pan, large enough to hold the sausage and sauce.
- When the meat is browned 4 - 5 minutes, add the Scarpetto Barely Bolognese sauce and cook together for 5 to 7 minutes. If the sauce gets too thick, just add a little of the pasta water to a better consistency.
- When the pasta is al dente, drain it and either add it to the sauce if the pan is big enough, transfer the sauce and then the pasta to a big bowl and combine or plate the pasta and top with a couple of spoonfuls of sauce.
- Add some Parmesan cheese and have some extra for your guests to add if they like more.