I may have thrown my dad’s cooking a little bit under the bus before, when I was talking about his Indian food phase. Truth be told, I learned most of what I know about cooking and baking from my parents, and they had a homemade meal on the table every night of the week for my brother and me while we were growing up, so I really had no right to turn up my nose or complain. That’s not to say I didn’t complain (and I still tease them when they tell me things like that they made vegan Philly cheesesteaks), but ultimately, I’ve always been grateful for their culinary efforts. Thus I thought it’d be nice to share one of their recipes that has always been a family favorite – penne al boccalone! Just before my senior year in college, I went up to Seattle to visit my brother and we made this for dinner together. Afterward, we found out that our parents had also made penne that same night – a family favorite, indeed!
To be honest, I’m not sure why it’s called “al boccalone”, since as far as I can tell, boccalone is a type of meat or sausage, and the recipes I’ve seen for penne al boccalone are vegetarian. Hmm. Can anyone explain this to me? I have no Italian heritage and the closest I come to speaking Italian is Spanish, so I don’t feel super authoritative on the matter. Anyway, I decided to throw in some sausage since there isn’t really any other source of protein, but feel free to leave it out or use veggie sausage if you’re trying to eat vegetarian or vegan. The tomato-based sauce for penne al boccalone is lighter than a traditional marinara sauce, but full of flavor regardless – the green chiles and parsley add a nice element of freshness, making this a perfect pasta for springtime!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons diced green chiles
- 1 cup – 1 1/4 cup fresh tomato pulp (remove the seeds and skins before puréeing)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- black pepper (to taste)
- 8 ounces ground sausage (regular or veggie)
- 1 pound penne
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add minced garlic and green chiles and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add puréed tomatoes and tomato paste, and stir until combined. Add parsley, vinegar, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Once finished cooking, drain and set aside.
- In a separate skillet (or if the sauce is done, you can use the same skillet, wiped clean), cook until browned, using the directions on the package.
- Combine pasta, sauce, and sausage, and garnish with additional fresh parsley if desired.
- 2 large beefsteak tomatoes or 4-5 roma tomatoes will yield about 1 cup of tomato pulp.
- You can easily make this dish vegetarian/vegan if you either omit the sausage or use veggie sausage.
I gave Phoebe a small bite or two of sausage while I was cooking. She came over later while I was taking photos to see if she could either snag another or convince me to give her one by melting me with her big brown puppy eyes. Unsuccessful…because I know a certain little puppy who is getting her own whole adoptiversary cake veeeery soon (stay tuned!).