When I first came to Philadelphia, I found very few people who welcomed me into their lives or communities, so those who did remain vivid in my memory. My very first dinner invitation was to Marni’s condo, less than a block away from my apartment. We walked home one evening, she invited me in and cooked something I had never eaten before: pasta with a chicken sausage and tomato sauce. It was delicious! She’ll say that had she known I was an Italophile maximixer, she would have never served pasta, but I say I’m glad she did. I still make the dish to this day … with my own twists and variations, of course, none of them using particularly Italian techniques.
Penne with chicken sausage
Saute half a large sweet onion in olive oil until soft.
Add a chopped portobello cap.
Add sliced sausage — I used Trader Joe’s Mushroom Asiago Chicken sausage, which includes chopped peppers and a light kick, but any sausage will do.
Add chopped tomato and simmer for a bit.
When it boils, add a splash of red wine and some broth, let it simmer some more and then add some chopped parsley.
Add cooked pasta (al dente) to the pan and saute for a minute or two.
Shave on some parmigiano reggiano and call it a meal.
I started making this meal tonight simply because I was really hungry after teaching a Spin class, but as I was cooking, I wondered if my choice was shaped by my mental state as well. As one of my close friends prepares to leave Philly and another reminds me that his departure is a few short months away, I find myself scanning my thoughts for memories of connection, seeking a ‘communion host’ in a favorite meal. Sigh. Sometimes I wish I could just see a dish of pasta as simple fuel for my body. Why does everything need to be connected, after all?