Because I have been neglecting my dear readers all summer, I feel it's time to give you something.
First, a recipe. And if you are the winner, a new cookbook!
Published in 1998, I have been using this cookbook for quite a long time. This year, for his back-to-school dinner, Charlie requested pasta, with bacon and tomatoes. He didn't care how I did it, but that was what he wanted.
And I immediately thought of a favorite recipe, I have made many times: Tuscan Tomato and Bacon Sauce, from this very cookbook. Easy to find, on page 260, due to all of the splashes of ingredients on the pages.
Here you go:
Tuscan Tomato and Bacon Sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 oz. fresh sweet Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed (I often use more than this)
4 strips thick sliced smoked bacon, diced ( I generally double this amount)
1 lg clove garlic, peeled and minced (I use 2 or 3)
1/2 c. coarsely chopped Spanish onion (I use whatever onions I have on hand)
1/2 c. port (I use red wine instead)
2 lbs. fresh plum tomatoes, or 4 c. canned tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (less if you don't want it spicy)
1 Tbsp. shredded fresh basil, or more to taste (you can imagine I add more)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over med hi heat. Add the sausage and bacon, saute until sausage is browned and bacon is crisp, about 5 min. Drain the excess fat from the pan, leaving enough to cook the garlic and onion over med hi heat until the onion is tender and lightly colored, 8-10 min.
Add the port (or wine) and simmer for 1 min., scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a gentle simmer over med-hi heat and cook, uncovered, until the tomatoes are softened and cooked down, 20-25 min. Then stir in the basil and serve. Or let cool and store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
* Serve over a mound of hot linguine with a few warm grilled shrimp tucked on top.
* Use as a pizza topping, along with a bit of grated mozzarella.
(Sorry that I don't have the easy to print recipe gadget active on my blog yet. To print, just cut and paste the recipe into Word, or Google Docs, and print to use.)
Personally, I doubled the recipe so we had enough for another meal. I also sauteed up a pound of sliced portabella mushrooms and added to the sauce, to increase the earthiness factor (we really love mushrooms). I also top it with a generous helping of freshly grated parmesan. Because the first helping of this is rather juicy, I always serve it with good crusty bread to sop up the juices. Honestly, it tastes even better the second day.
I have made batches of this at the end of summer with fresh tomatoes and frozen it to enjoy in January. YUM.
Anyhoo, this is just one of a number of wonderful recipes from this delightful cookbook. I have made the Summer Corn and Tomato Salad, the BLT Pasta Salad, the Maple Glazed Pork Chops, the Mango Chicken Salad, the Vidalia Onion Dip, the Pesto, and the Cherry Apple Pecan Crisp. And I haven't even made a dent in all of the wonderful recipes I have yet to try: Key Lime Pudding Cakes, Gingerbread Peach Upside-Down Cake, Maple Cashew Crisps, Buttermilk Chive Mashed Potatoes, Wild Mushroom, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Lasagne, Maple Roasted Sweet Potato Spears, Southern Pulled Chicken Barbeque, Pork and Apple Chili.....
Are you hungry yet?
I picked up a copy of this delightful cookbook at a favorite book store, and because I love it so, I want to share the fun with one of you.
Please leave a comment (with your email address) and let me know if you made a back to school meal for your child, or if you remember a special back to school meal from your own childhood. You will be entered to win.
Contest closes at midnight on Saturday, Sept. 10th and the winner will be announced on Monday.