Why kids love pasta, I have no idea. But they do. Place of bowl of pasta in front of them and most kids will react as though they’re being presented with a special treat. Even adults are not immune from the charms of a beguiling pasta dish. Perhaps, it’s the excitement of twirling the noodles around the fork. Perhaps, it’s the way the thick shimmery sauce coats each noodle strand and then, in a somewhat mischievous manner, drips off a bit when each forkful of noodles is lifted. Perhaps, it’s the grated cheese on top. Or, perhaps, it is the association with parties, fun, and games, and the warm memories that they evoke of sultry summer afternoons in the backyard.
I love pasta. Even as an adult. It is unpretentious and uncomplicated. Eating pasta does not require special cutlery or any remarkable knife skills. Pasta and the more formal table etiquette don’t seem to go together. And yet, pasta is “adult” enough to be paired with a good bottle of wine. Oh, I can go on and on and write a litany about the virtues of pasta and not run out of words. But if I did, we’ll never get to the recipe part. So, I’ll stop here. Let’s just sum up those virtues in one phrase pasta is a feel-good dish. Like a grandmother’s soup. Or a cup of coffee or tea. It is comforting and reassuring.
So, let me now tell you about this pasta dish. Made with ordinary ingredients yet the result was anything but ordinary. Beef and spicy sausage, garden-fresh oregano stripped from their stalks, chopped tomatoes, and cream, cheese. Slit the skins of the sausages, peel them off, and discard them. Pull the meat part into small pieces. Heat the olive oil. Add the beef and sausage meat. Cook until no longer pink.
Add the chopped onion, stir, and cook until the meat is lightly browned and the onion bits start to turn translucent. No garlic? Whether or not garlic should be added depends on the kind of sausage you’re using. If using a spicy and garlicky variety, adding more garlic might be overkill. So, I’ll leave the garlic part to you. Pour in the chopped tomatoes. Strip the oregano leaves off their stalks directly on top.
Stir. Season with salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. To serve, place some cooked pasta on a plate or shallow bowl. Ladle a generous amount of sauce and meat over the noodles. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Garnish with parsley or basil.