Coming back from a long (end of summer, to boot) holiday weekend is a great time to count our small victories: those little moments in life where we find that sparkle of success. It’s the accumulation of all those small victories that propel us through a day (whether we acknowledge them or not) and when our heads hit the pillow at night we have that moment of ‘yea… not so bad, not so bad… zzzZZ’.
Small victories include:
• actually remembering to take the grocery list to the grocery store. • watering the lawn before the unforgiving August sun comes calling. • getting the city to fix the giant pothole / canyon in front of your house (THIS is actually a very large victory in New Orleans) • remembering your umbrella. • buying anchovies and using them in a recipe successfully despite their smell and general creepiness. • and eating an entire burrito with your hands… not a fork and knife.
All petite victories that get us through A to B to C to D in a day and gosh-dangit… they deserve recognition and celebration.
Small Victories is also a kitchen concept, pep talk, and cookbook by Julia Turshen.
Kitchen victories come as we tuck little bits of knowledge, confidence, and intuition under our belts in the kitchen. Everything we learn is a little bit of something. Boiling water… that’s a victory… just think of all the pasta, grits, and legumes in your future! Turning a brisket into ragu or tacos or Sunday night dinner. Look atcha werkin’. Making broth for soups and learning how to soup that soup into soup anytime you want soup? Gosh that’s victory that deserves a parade.
This book is such a solid tool… and approachable and endearing, too! New favorite, for sure.
Also, we’re making pasta and sometimes warm dinner not popcorn dinner is a victory in itself.
We’re making pasta dinner!
This is very versatile is flavor which means… whatcha got? Let’s be adventurous. Let’s pasta it.
We’ll start by browning spicy Italian sausage. Browned to crisp. Browned to very well browned. Browned until bits stick to the bottom of the pan. That’s the sign of good things afoot.
Onions are cooked past translucent to browned in the sausage fat. Garlic, too. Naturally.
Here’s the thing about anchovies: they’re smelly. They’re smelly especially if you’re not eating them but someone around you is eating them. Same goes for bananas… but that’s neither here not there.
Anchovies will add a depth, saltiness, and general umami flavor to the pasta that’s simply delicious. Victory, indeed.
Whole peeled tomatoes in their juice. Try to get the good Italian kind. I think they’re the sweetest and most flavorful.
Tomatoes are broken down to chunky using a wooden spoon. This will be rustic and deeply satisfying. Trust it.
Sausage is added back to the simmering tomatoes and onions.
Now we’ll add the saltiness by way of coarsely chopped capers and chopped green olives.
Sea salt and lots of black pepper too!
Crushed red pepper flakes are also a supreme thought.
To this simple tomato sauce, we’ll add a good dose of reserved salted pasta water. Adding seasoning and a bit of starch.
Julia notes that the small victory of this recipe is taking the pasta out of the pasta water just before it’s completely cooked. Reserve some of the pasta water, adding it to the sauce, and toss in the pasta and allow the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce, absorbing all of those delicious savory flavors.
Orecchiette is my favorite pasta shape. Little ears. They’re little bowls for the tomato, sausage, olive flavors.
Top with a bonkers amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
Serve in generous heaps with cold beer. Best eaten with rowdy company on the couch. We are victorious and full.Print
- kosher salt
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 anchovy filets
- 1 large (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped capers
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- parmesan cheese, for topping
- fresh parsley, for topping
- 8 ounces baby spinach
- 1 cup frozen peas
- sauteed mushrooms
- crushed red pepper flakes
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add kosher salt and dried pasta. Cook until al dente (according to the package instructions). Drain, reserving about 2 cups of pasta water to add some to the sauce later. Allow pasta to rest while you make the sauce.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and crumble in the sausage. Cook, breaking the sausage with the back of a spoon until the sausage it very well browned and the fat is rendered. Spoon the sausage into a bowl and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and stir for 2 minutes more.
- Add the anchovy filets and use the back of a spoon to break up into the onions are garlic.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice. Break up with the spoon to create smaller tomato bites.
- Return the cooked sausage to the pan along with the olives and capers. Stir. Add about 3/4 cup pasta water to thin the sauce, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir pasta into the sauce, adding more pasta water as necessary.
- Sprinkle with fresh parmesan and fresh parsley and enjoy warm.
- Add the other optional ingredients to the sauce as it cooks if you’d like and enjoy pasta night!
- Serving Size: 4