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Salt and Stone: Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Pasta is done in no time

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sausage and broccoli pasta

After looking high and low around town for a Slip ‘N Slide for the kids, Aaron finally swung by Home Depot and bought them 50 yards of industrial plastic.

With a sloping front yard, these kids are slipping and sliding their way through the brutal heat and summer boredom that’s settled in. I think they’ve gone through at least three bottles of dish soap at this point and no one is particularly safe when the hose is turned on.

I typically post up nearby in a lawn chair just to make sure no one gets hurt, but inevitably my chair, my hat, and my iced tea are soaking wet, knocked over and I’m hollering loud enough that I’m sure the neighbors can all hear me.

We keep reminding the kids that this is what summer was like every year back when we were kids (we love reminding them of “simpler times”). Boredom is a rite of passage we mutter through gritted teeth while picking up 57 Nerf bullets and rogue granola bar wrappers stuffed into the couch cushions.

It feels too hot to cook most of the time and all anyone wants anyway is ripe peaches and ice cold Popsicles. When it’s been a few days since a proper meal, or I don’t know what to make for dinner, this delicious and oh-so-easy spicy sausage and broccoli pasta always hits a home run with the entire family.

Typically this recipe is made with orecchiette pasta, but I find the shape of the noodle doesn’t matter too much. I’m a firm believer in using whatever you have on hand, so penne it was. Spicy Italian sausage, broccoli, a little garlic, a hint of lemon and salty Parmesan cheese come together for a decadent and delicious dinner, you’ll be shocked that it took only 20 minutes to throw together.

• Andrea McCoy writes the column Kitchen Captivated for Yakima Magazine and at The Salt and Stone, a home cooking blog. The Salt and Stone is a nod not just to the essence of cooking, but also to the Yakima Valley. Read more at www.thesaltandstone.com.

Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

1 pound penne noodles

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound mild, sweet or spicy Italian sausage (casings removed)

3 cloves garlic

1 pound broccoli florets

1 teaspoon lemon zest (about half a small lemon)

3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup pasta water

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook noodles per package instructions, stirring occasionally to ensure pasta doesn’t stick to the pot. Drain pasta from the pot once noodles are al dente, reserving one cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-low heat in olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to crumble sausage, stirring and flipping the meat often so it cooks evenly, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook one additional minute. Add the pasta water and butter to the skillet along with the broccoli, salt and pepper. Keep stirring until the broccoli is tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes depending how big the broccoli pieces are. Turn heat to the skillet off.

Transfer pasta and sausage-broccoli mixture back to the large pot. Stir to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Stir gently, taste and adjust to your preference, adding more black pepper, salt or lemon if needed. Serve immediately.

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