spaghetti with smashed peas, sausage & ricotta

I couldn’t figure out what I wanted for dinner last night, so Tom wanted to just wing it. Winging it scares me. It went wrong waaay too many times growing up in my parents’ house (sorry Mom!). So then he suggested spaghetti with tomato sauce. Well, I went to college without a meal plan and ate spaghetti for just about every meal of my entire freshman year, so I still can’t quite do that without gagging a little. We managed to compromise with this. It’s a Giada / FoodNetwork.com recipe, altered to what I had on hand. It was good. Nothing to really rave about, but I guess it works if you don’t want tomato sauce and you’re not willing to take the plunge into a rich cream sauce.

1 lb spaghetti
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 lb frozen peas, thawed
1 cup Ricotta cheese ( we used part skim)
dried basil to taste (I’m sure fresh would be much better, but I didn’t have any)
salt, to taste
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan (the recipe called for Romano, which I am sure would have been better, but again, we were using what I had on hand)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and garlic, add sausage, using a wooden spoon to break it up into bite sized pieces. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

3. Add the peas to the pan, and smash with the spoon. (We used a potato masher. Much more fun.)

4. Turn off the heat, add the ricotta and cooked pasta. Toss. Pour in pasta cooking water, 1/4 cup at a time, as needed, to make the pasta moist.

5. Return the sausage to the pan, add the pasta, Parmesan, and salt. Toss to coat and serve!

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