THE PASTA STRIKES BACK
I am a huge fan of all things easy, tasty, and cheesy. When I found Pinterest, recipe books that I had so carefully collected over the years have sat forlornly on the shelf collecting dust and watched jealously as I poured over pins looking for my next meal inspiration. I stumbled across this particular recipe when struggling to find something easy for dinner one night that fit all my necessary criteria. Most importantly I already had ingredients on hand to make it.
However, my victory was short lived. Making the creation as it was written in the recipe was edible to be sure, but terribly bland severely not attractive. When reading the description, the writer claimed savory sausage and fragrant garlic, onion, and tomatoes would draw the family in… It certainly did smell good while cooking, but when eating I mostly just tasted cheese and watery tomatoes in the finished product. I decided to undergo the process a second time with some slight alteration to see if the result would be better.
My apologies that I neglected to document the result the first time, but honestly you didn’t miss THAT much. Just look at my pictures and imagine them looking washed out and less appetizing. It will be hard work I know, but I believe in you!
The name of the recipe, One-Pot Cheesy Pasta, screams simplicity and few dirty dishes. Everything you could want when cooking! And true to its name, I only had to utilize one pot for the process. All told, cooking took me about 20 minutes but I did linger on cooking a few ingredients a little longer than recommended.
My first alteration for the second round was to change the kind of sausage I used. The recipe calls for Smoked Turkey Sausage, which was ok but the smoked flavor was lost and it just became an incomprehensible mess of cheese and chunks of meat product. I substituted for some Andouille Sausage I had left over from making Jambalaya last week, and boy did that make a difference! Andouille Sausage is pretty comparable price-wise to regular smoked sausage, but it has just the right amount of spice in it to shine above the cheese and tomatoes without adding overwhelming heat. It is by far a more flavorful option, but if you have issues with using any spice when cooking then stick with the Turkey.
Cooking the onion and sausage together works fine, and saves time, but I also added the garlic sooner than what the recipe suggested. By adding a little more garlic and cooking it longer the finished product had a more pronounced roasted garlicky taste than when I had just cooked it for the 30 seconds recommended.
An issue I had with the first round was how watery it turned out (which prompted this to be a Pintrest Impossible entry). It was a combination of two things: using fat free milk instead of half-n-half or cream, and not draining the can of tomatoes before adding it in. I would like to make clear that the recipe does not call for you to drain the can of tomatoes before you add it! I can hear all of you reaching for your keyboards… You can totally make the argument that I should have known to do that in the first place. But, considering how much pasta goes into this concoction the amount of liquid when I added the pasta seemed completely reasonable to me… Until the finished product reared its malformed and juicy head that is. So please, do yourself a favor, use cream (which thickens better than milk) and drain the tomatoes. The noodles won’t come out too soft and the “sauce” as it were will be nice and thick and flavorful!
The scallions were the one ingredient I did NOT have the first time around, and really do help with taste and curb appeal. I made sure to have scallions on hand the second round… it was SUCH an improvement. Please don’t neglect the scallions; it adds to the texture and the green really pops making the dish look so much better in my honest opinion. In this image I added the scallions directly to the pot to show how cool I am in making something that resembles a pretty picture from Pinterest… but next time I make this (and there WILL be a next time), I’ll just add them to the bowl right before serving. A minor nit-pick, but I think leftovers will taste better with fresh instead of mushy scallions when it gets re-heated.
All in all my verdict for second time around was a resounding SUCCESS!
Live long and cheese in peace viewers.