Accidentally made the best pasta ever. Here’s the mojo I followed:
On a rimmed baking sheet in a 425 degree oven, I roasted a few garlic gloves, half an onion I found in the frig, a pepper, and about a dozen cherry tomatoes from the farmers market. Drizzle with olive oil before roasting for about 25 min. The tomatoes will burst and char while the other veggies soften and caramelize.
Remove roasting pan. I deglazed with a bit of sherry. (You could use wine or broth instead. Just be mindful of the overall sweet-sour balance in the recipe.)
Put pasta water on to boil. I used rigatoni. I think penne or shells would have been great too.
Dice the roasted onion. Peel the roasted cloves and see if any garlic survived. (Keep it.) Remove the skin from the pepper and dice the flesh.
I then sliced two leftover grilled Italian sausage links and added those to the pile of prepped veggies on the baking sheet.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet. Add olive oil or butter. Throw some fresh garlic into the pan (diced) along with a couple pieces of the onion and any roasted garlic you rescued.
Once that got going, I put in the juice and pulp from an overripe tomato and let that cook down a bit. By now the pasta water was ready so I started cooking that.
Add 1/4 cup cream sherry and 2T balsamic vinegar to pan, simmer. Add punch of red pepper, fresh ground pepper, flaky salt, and Italian seasoning.
Add all the vegetables from the baking sheet, scraping in the toasty bits. Add the sliced cooked sausage. (If I were making this with uncooked meat, I would have started that in the pan first.)
And the winner: add a small round of soft goat cheese, around 3oz. Mine was flavored with Italian herbs and balsamic. Stir through the pan until the cheese melts and a thick sauce forms.
I then added a couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves and let those wilt slightly as the cheese melted and the sauce formed.
When the noodles are done (I did this just before they were al dente), strain noodles straight into the pan with the sauce. You don’t want much cooking water but you do need a little. I scoop mine with a slotted pasta server so I get piping hot noodles and a little extra water. Keep stirring noodles into the sauce as you add them.
Serve with a sprinkling of parmasean and some fresh basil if you have it.