1 lb penne pasta
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large can (28 oz.) ground peeled tomatoes
¾ can water (use tomato can)
½ teaspoon each dried oregano and basil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 DMP Mild Italian Sausage links
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
2 whole green or red bell peppers
1 large yellow or red onion
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
2 bay leaves
2 hot peppers, chopped or ¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
Use fresh basil and oregano herbs whenever available, substituting 2 tablespoons fresh for ½ teaspoon dry. Use fresh hot peppers, if available, being careful only to add a small amount at a time until desired heat is reached.
Note: Hot peppers vary in the amount of heat according to variety, growing conditions, size, etc. Some peppers (such as Scotch bonnet) should only be used in small portions and the seeds and cores (the hottest part) removed, while others, such as jalapenos may be used more liberally. The best way to judge the heat of any particular variety is to taste a tiny portion (1/8″ x 1/8″) before deciding how much to add to the sauce. Red hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper may be added when fresh hot peppers are unavailable.
Wash and peel onions. Wash, core and peel bell peppers. Remove strings from celery (break a corner and pull strings back to remove). Chop vegetables coarsely in a food processor, if desired, or using a sharp knife. Peel garlic. Slice sausage into 1 inch pieces (kitchen shears make the job easy), leaving skin on.
In a large, heavy skillet, add olive oil, chopped onions, bell peppers, shallot (if using) and celery. Brown over high heat, stirring often. When vegetables are taking on a slight amount of color, add sliced Italian sausage and whole garlic cloves. Sauté until sausage has browned nicely.
As garlic begins to look roasted and softens (turn it a few times so it browns evenly), press it into the oil using the tines of a fork and move it to the outside edge of the pan (or pile it on top of the sausages) so it doesn’t become overly dark.
When ingredients have colored nicely, pour in wine vinegar stirring up brown bits from bottom of pan. Add tomatoes and ¾ can of water. Reduce heat, add bay leaves and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Add herbs and hot peppers; season to taste. The sauce can be served after 30-40 minutes of simmering, or can cook over low heat for an hour or two. The sauce may be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated overnight.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, prepare penne pasta according to package directions until cooked al dente (firm to the tooth). When adding the pasta to the rapidly boiling water, bring sauce to a boil for 1 minute; reduce heat and simmer until pasta has cooked. Sliced mushrooms may also be added to the sauce during the final 15 minutes of cooking, as a variation.
Taste sauce and adjust seasoning as desired, adding salt, pepper, garlic powder and hot pepper.
Serve pasta topped with sauce, which includes a liberal portion of sausages and peppers. Serve accompanied with Parmesan or Romano cheese for sprinkling at table.