Orecchiette with Roasted Italian Sausage, Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, and Spinach
AS I HAVE BEEN MAKING slight redesigns of the site, I've been afforded revisitations to many old posts. In one of them I enjoyed some of Hill Country's bourbon mashed sweet potato, eating some at the restaurant and taking the rest home.

That's when it occurred to me that, in the whole of my life, I'm pretty sure I've only had sweet potato as a further sweetened side dish.

I was curious if I could pull off a purely savory preparation, and remembering I had some uncooked link Italian sausage still in the fridge, I browned its sides in an oven-ready skillet with just olive oil and salt, then placed it in a 325° pre-heated oven.

I peeled and diced half a large sweet potato and tossed it into a larger skillet with, again, olive oil and salt, sautéing the cubes while cooking a pot of orecchiette, a pasta that approximates little doughy caps.

I let the sweet potato cook only for a few minutes before adding sliced garlic and diced red pepper, making every effort to not overcook the sweet potato, lest they wind up mushy. As they cooked I added a couple tablespoons of chicken stock, lemon juice, a dash of Dijon mustard, butter, and, finally, added a healthy amount of fresh cracked pepper.

When the pasta was al dente, I drained it, then spooned the vegetables into the pot with the drained pasta, and stirred it together over low heat with a drizzle of olive oil, mixing the pasta and vegetables thoroughly.

I removed the pot from the heat and stirred in some baby spinach. I removed the link sausage from the oven to sit. I spooned the finished pasta onto a plate, then sliced the sausage and arranged them on top, completing the plate with a bit more pepper and some parmesan cheese.

A pleasantly light, bright, yet earthy dish, this dish had plenty of flavor and clean finishes, and was served well by the individual components playing very well together.

I'm glad I didn't "caramelize" the garlic too much; often the residual smokiness can overwhelm any other subtle flavors. The sausage, roasted, rendered the incased, seasoned fat into melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The red pepper added kick to the front of my tongue while the aromatic garlic helped each bite finish nicely.

The sweet potato, surprisingly novel in this incarnation, was full of welcomingly palatable properties, with its firm but pliant texture evocative of mellow, almost fruity pumpkin, yet also offering the savory nuance of a squash or eggplant.

I now have a whole new way to look at—and appreciate—sweet potato. Here's hoping many of you have the same reaction to PHUDE-NYC's redesign...! ;)

Bun Apple Tea!


Orecchiette with Roasted Italian Sausage, Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, and Spinach