I don’t often watch Food Network (because we don’t have cable), but one day a few years ago I happened to come across Tyler’s Ultimate when he was making this pasta recipe. It was just the kind of dish my family enjoys eating, and that I enjoy fixing. It’s easy to make, contains no processed foods, and doesn’t cost that much to make or require any strange, expensive ingredients. The sausage can be purchased bulk or links used. Depending on the time of year, the tomatoes, zucchini, and basil can actually come from a farmers’ market or right from the garden, but they’re also easy to find year-round in any supermarket. On the show Tyler actually peeled and added fresh artichoke hearts, but canned work just as well.
Having made this several times, I’m not so sure I would exactly call this recipe “quick,” but it’t not difficult to put together. The results are, as WenYu put it the first time we tried it, amazing. Not one bite is ever left over at our home, and everyone in our family considers it one of the best pasta dishes we’ve ever had.
The recipe as written uses an incredibly large amount of olive oil in my opinion, nearly one cup. I cut back the oil back to four tablespoons (1/4 cup) and it comes out fine. I use two tablespoons to cook the tomatoes, and the other two to saute the zucchini and artichokes and it was more than enough. The only other change I’ve made is to cut back on the amount of sugar added to the tomatoes. Our family all thought the sauce turned out a little too sweet when I used the full tablespoon. One teaspoon of sugar would probably be enough, especially if the tomatoes are fresh and naturally sweet from the garden or farmer’s market.
QUICK FARMER’S MARKET PASTA
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
- 3/4 cup olive oil plus more as needed (I use 1/4 cup)
- salt & pepper
- 1 TBSP sugar (or less, if desired)
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 3/4 pound pork Italian sausage (chicken or turkey Italian sausage can be substituted)
- 2-3 small zucchini, sliced
- 1 can artichoke hearts, drained well and cut into quarters
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- fresh basil leaves (optional)
Place the sliced garlic and tomatoes in a large, heavy saute or frying pan, and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the pan over low-medium heat and cook slowly until the tomatoes are falling apart and the juices are mixed with the olive oil, about 35-40 minutes. Using the back of a spoon, squash the tomatoes to make a chunky sauce; mix in the sugar and set aside, keeping warm.
Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain.
In another large saute or fry pan, add some olive oil and saute the sausage until brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add a little more olive oil to the pan, and add the zucchini, sauteing until caramelized around the sides, then add the artichoke hearts and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the sausage back to the pan, then toss in the pasta and tomato sauce and mix over medium heat to make sure everything is heated through.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and shredded fresh basil, if desired.