I wish I had a fascinating origin story for this weeknight-dinner dish, but in reality, it’s been a busy year, and this is just the kind of dinner I’ve been feeling like putting together after work. It’s a good standby for when mental and physical energy are sapped. It’s got a lot of enjoyable components (goat cheese + sausage + veggies) to give you something to really look forward to at the end of a busy day. It’s not overly complex, but it’s perfectly satisfying.
I’m hoping it’s the start of more successful pasta dishes that use goat cheese as the base for a creamy pasta sauce. I’ve made several attempts at goat-cheese-based pasta recipes, all of which served as passable dinners for David and me, but none worth sharing or repeating. I keep thinking it should be simple to put together a basic pasta dish using goat cheese as the base for the sauce, but my attempts so far have been off: the goat cheese lends either a weak or funky flavor or I overthink the combination of ingredients. This is the first time I’ve found the effort worthwhile, and it’s so exceeded my expectations. It’s in the realm of regular rotation for dinner recipes.
Goat Cheese and Sausage Pasta
3/4 pound uncooked Italian sausage
1 pound penne pasta
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
1/4 cup dry red wine
4 oz. goat cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a roiling boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
2. While the pasta water is heating, cook the sausage: Remove the sausage from their casings and cook in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking apart the sausage into bits as it browns. When the sausage is thoroughly cooked through (about 10 minutes), use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a separate bowl.
3. Add the red onion to the same skillet and cook until the onion becomes soft and starts to brown (there’s usually enough sausage drippings for this, but add just a bit of olive oil if you need to). Add the diced tomatoes and red wine and heat through, breaking apart any larger chunks. Finally, as the pasta finishes cooking, mix in the goat cheese and stir to incorporate evenly.
4. Add the sauce to the pasta (usually the pot in which the pasta was cooked is the bigger of the two and makes stirring easier) and mix until the pasta is well coated. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce as needed. Serve immediately.