Category Archives: Sausage

Savory Cavatappi with Pork Sausage and Veggies

I truly love discovering quality foods to cook with…recently I came across Applegate Farms Breakfast Sausage at my local Whole Foods Market.  The sausages are really, really, really good. Really. So, I thought, why limit myself to just breakfast?  Inspired by my dad’s recipe for a 1960s favorite—Egg Noodles and Sausage Toss—I devised this recipe. It’s a hit, except with my son who dislikes green things in his food. Oh well, like so many good-for-you foods, in Sam’s case, the spinach is optional.

Savory Cavatappi with Pork Sausage & Veggies

(serves 6)

  • 1 package (16 ounces) Cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta (or try bowties, penne, etc., any shape will do!)
  • 4 tablespoons good quality olive oil, divided
  • 1 package (8 ounces) Applegate Farms Classic Pork Breakfast Sausage
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes (any colors and varieties), halved
  • about 6 ounces  baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • small basil leaves, optional

Cook the Cavatappi according to package directions. Before draining it, reserve 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Drizzle it with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the reserved cooking liquid, and toss. Cover the pasta to keep it warm.

While the pasta is cooking, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet, and saute the sausage  over medium low heat. Remove the sausage to a cutting board.  Slice the sausage diagonally into 1 inch pieces.

Keeping the heat on medium low, add the onions and garlic to the pan, and saute them for a few minutes until they soften.  Add the tomatoes and cook them for 2 minutes, then add the sliced sausages. Next, add the spinach and cook it until it just begins to wilt. Be careful not to overcook it, since it will become mushy and lose its brilliant green color.

Pour the sausage mixture over the pasta, and gently toss it. Sprinkle it with the Parmesan cheese, then add salt and pepper to taste, and  toss it again.

If you like, add some small basil leaves and a sprinkling of extra Parmesan cheese to each serving.

This recipe lends itself to all kinds of good veggie variations, so have fun experimenting!



Filed under Entertaining, Pasta, Pork, Sausage, Vegetables

Pick a Pepper, Any Pepper

I recently came across this artful display of jewel-like bell peppers at a fruit and veggie stand. I love the colors! I immediately started to think about inventing a new recipe for A LA CARTE Kitchen. There are a variety of ways to use bell peppers—you can roast, saute, grill, or blanch them, use them in salads, or eat them raw. After lots of ideas, I settled on creating a modern version of traditional stuffed peppers.  I have happy childhood memories of my Mom serving green

peppers stuffed with ground beef, rice and tomato sauce.  I am sure many of you have the same memories!  I put a spin on the traditional recipe by using red, yellow and orange bell peppers, flavored chicken sausage, butternut squash, fresh sage, yellow rice and blue saga  cheese.  I think the flavor combination is delicious, and really nice for autumn—let me know if you like it!

Twisted Stuffed Peppers

Makes 4 servings

4 red, yellow and/or orange peppers, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 flavored chicken sausage links, removed from casings  (about 1/2 lb. — I used sun-dried tomato and basil flavor)
1 cup diced butternut squash (about 1/2 small peeled and seeded)
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 package (8 ounces) yellow rice mix (I used Zataran’s, but you can use your favorite)
2 ounces Blue Saga cheese, cut into 8 slices

Parboil peppers until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.

– Preheat oven to 375F.  In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add sausage, breaking up meat with side of spoon, until browned.  With slotted spoon, remove sausage from skillet.

– To drippings in skillet, add  squash, onion, garlic and sage; cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Add rice mix, reserved sausage  and amount of water on rice package directions; heat to boiling.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, following rice package directions.

– Arrange pepper halves, cut side up, in 13 x 9″ baking dish.  Spoon rice mixture evenly into pepper halves.  Top with cheese slices.  Bake, uncovered, until heated through and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.


– Add raisins or currants to mixture to add a bit of sweet to mixture.

– Not a blue cheese fan like me? Try shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella.

Peppers 101

Peppers come in all shapes, sizes and colors—large, small, red, green, yellow, orange, purple, oval, curled, bell-shaped and more.  They can be hot, mild, or sweet and have all sorts of names:  bell, chili, jalapeno, banana, habanero, cayenne, chipotle, cherry, fresno, mirasol, pablano, ancho, scotch bonnet, and serrano.

The most common is the bell pepper. They are the sweetest of all the varieties with green being the less sweet and slightly more bitter than the red, yellow and orange bell pepper. Red bell peppers also have more vitamins and nutrients and have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers.


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Filed under Main Dishes, Sausage

A Chili Summer

Ask people how they like their chili and you’ll get a variety of answers. Mild or caliente, vegetarian or con carne, everyone has an opinion. Chili brings out our experimental side, and almost anything can be thrown into the pot; as evidenced by the many chili cook-offs occurring across the country each summer.

One such cook-off that I’ve frequented over the years is the summer chili cook-off at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York.  Come August at the Spa, it’s High Society  and horses in the paddock, and folding chairs & coolers behind the grandstand.  Saratoga’s 40-day summer meet is the crème de la crème of thoroughbred racing, boasting a stakes race each and every day.  The historic grandstand & race course has even been named one of the worlds great sporting venues by Sports Illustrated magazine.

So if you’re looking for one last day-trip to your never ending summer, set a course for upstate New York, where the horses will be running through Labor Day.  Can’t get to the Spa…  then try my summer chili recipe.  It takes me back there everytime !

as photographed by our team, à la Carte Partners

Joe’s Slow-Cooker Chili
makes about 12 servings

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground Italian sausage (hot or sweet)
1 bottle (12 oz) beer
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans (28 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder (more for spicy)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2  teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
1  package (10 oz.) frozen corn
1  package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 can (15 oz.) red pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

– In large skillet brown ground beef and sausage; drain and spoon into Crock-Pot.
– Add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours.


– Leftovers can be frozen.
Any combination of beans can be used.
– Seasoning can be adjusted to your taste buds.
– To make a vegetarian version, remove the beef and sausage  and add your favorite vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, yellow squash, butternut squash,  bell peppers, etc.



Filed under Beef, Chili, Crock-Pot, Sausage