One of our favorite local haunts is Britta’s Café in Irvine, California. At least twice a month, you can find us there on date nite. In fact, we enjoy this place so much we named our dog after it. And, with a seasonal menu that rotates about six times a year, there’s always something new to try. If there’s an item we especially enjoy, we play the “let’s see if we can reconstruct this at home” game.
Over the summer, we tried Britta’s chicken sausage penne with garlic cream sauce and fell in love with it. So, over the past few months, we’ve been in the test kitchen playing with different ingredients to reproduce the masterpiece.
The test kitchen revealed that Brand X pasta yielded thick and chewy bites. We weren’t sure how to fix it, so we left it alone to tackle later. The official plan was to purchase different box pennes as they went on sale locally to analyze them one by one.
Then Sunday arrived. While out on a date, we decided to cruise by a favorite Los Angeles eatery, A.O.C. With a tight budget, we opted for a glass of wine and a cheese plate, thinking that we’d go home to have dinner. While sharing our St. Emilion and Cabernet Francs, as well as Caprino Stagionato Selvaggio Sardon (Italian hard goat cheese), Le Brebiou Beorn (French soft sheep cheese) and Pierre Robert Ile-de-France (French soft cow cheese), we decided to give the sausage penne another go.
At the Whole Foods near Third and Fairfax, we found a package of Rustichella D’Abruzzo, S.p.A. penne, went home and made dinner.
You can’t tell by just looking at it, but the premium penne was much more delicate in the dish. Luckily for us, we didn’t have to try a handful of pastas before finding one that was just right.
The end result (after about 3 or 4 tries) was spectacular. We hope you enjoy, but please, go to Britta’s next summer and try the official dish.
How much cheaper would it be if you made your favorite restaurant dish at home?
Spicy Italian Sausage with Garlic Cream Penne
~ Serves ~
~ Ingredients ~
- 3 spicy Italian sausage links, removed from casing
- 8 oz. penne pasta
- ½ tbsp. olive oil
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 4 oz. spinach
- Sea salt, to taste
- Shredded parmesan, romano and/or asiago cheese, for garnish
~ Preparation ~
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
- Cook penne according to package directions. Strain and set aside when ready. At the same time:
- Heat small skillet with olive oil. Cook sausage. Let dry over paper towel to extract fat.
- Take about 1 tbsp. of oil from the first skillet, and heat in second skillet. This eliminates the sausage scuzzies from getting into the light orange-colored cream sauce. Purely presentation; won’t affect flavor too much if you re-use the same skillet. Add shallot and garlic. Sauté over medium heat until soft, but not browned.
- Toss in spinach. Sauté with spinach until wilted, about one minute. Add cream and salt, to taste. Reduce cream, about 3-5 minutes. Once reduced, toss back in sausage and penne. Serve immediately. Garnish with shredded Italian cheese(s).
Variations: Add some sun-dried tomatoes.
Source: Rustic Garden Bistro
Nutrition content per serving: 604 calories, 45g carbs, 21g protein, 38g fat, 3g fiber
Cost per serving: $ 4.52