Monday, July 18, 2011

Farmers Market Fun Part II

Fussili Pasta with Jalapeño Cheese Sauce, Sausage, and Swiss Chard
My second trip to this summer's Farmers Market was a wet, but wholly inspirational one. Summer's bounty is becoming more and more glorious as the weeks go by and I was thrilled to find numerous booths packed with fragrant herbs, bright leafy greens, and colorful berries. This meal started as we strolled by the same farm that provided the excellent pepper bacon for June's Carbonara recipe. A pound of Hot Italian sausage and brick of creamy Havarti cheese later, I was well on my way to crafting this green-packed, herby pasta dish. This was a quick and easy meal to put together and full of some of the summer's most distinctive flavors.

- l lb. hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 2 tsp. hot pepper flakes 
- 2 c. grated jalapeño Havarti (or a good quality pepper jack cheese)
- 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves torn into large pieces
- 1 lb. dried fussili pasta
- 5 spring onions, trimmed and sliced into bite-sized pieces (both white and green pieces)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
- salt and pepper
- 2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1 c. of milk

Bring a large heavy pot of water to a rolling boil, salt it thoroughly. Cook pasta to package directions, about 9 minutes. After the pasta boils for about 7 minutes, add the chard to blanch. Drain water, reserving about a cup of the pasta water. Set aside. If you time this right, the cheese sauce should be finished about the same time the pasta and chard are cooked. While the water is coming to a boil, brown sausage in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-heat, about 5-7 minutes. When it is cooked through, remove from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving the drippings in the pan. Put sausage in a large serving bowl and set aside.

Add butter and chopped onions to sausage drippings and cook over medium heat until the onions soften slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook and additional minute.
 Reduce heat to medium-low and add flour. Whisk for 1 minute. Slowly add milk and cream to the flour mixture and continue whisking until a thick, smooth, creamy sauce forms. Add grated cheeses, Tabasco sauce, pepper flakes, and mustard and whisk over low heat until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. 

Add the drained pasta and chard to the cooked sausage in the serving bowl and pour about half of the warm cheese sauce over the mixture. Toss with tongs to combine ingredients, then pour the remaining sauce and toss again to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed in. If the sauce is dry add some of the pasta cooking liquid about a 1/4 c. at a time. Toss in the fresh herbs and serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

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