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Pantry items combine for quick dinner

| Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Nealey Dozier
Spicy Sausage and Mixed Vegetable Skillet Pasta.

I didn't have to look very far for this weeknight rescue recipe, and I am thankful that it found me.

As I was strolling through the cheese section of my local grocery store, picking out toppings for at pizza party, I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman restocking the shelf. What started out as an innocent little chat turned into a full blown discussion, and one of the things he mentioned was his family's latest favorite dish. He said, “I just brown some andouille in a wok, toss in a bag of vegetables from the freezer, add tomato sauce and pasta and call it a day.” Sounded easy enough.

Normally, this conversation would have evaporated within minutes of leaving the store (not because I am rude, but because I have the memory of a goldfish) but for some reason, it stuck with me. Days later, I desperately needed something to eat, and I decided to give it a try. Andouille? Check. (It's an ingredient I always like to have on hand.) Frozen vegetables? Check. Whole-wheat penne? Check. I took a few extra liberties, adding Creole mustard and a splash of cream instead of tomato sauce, and it worked out quite well, I must say.

Nealey Dozier is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a blog for people who love food and home cooking.

Spicy Sausage and Mixed Vegetable Skillet Pasta

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Water

4 ounces regular or whole-wheat penne

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

8 ounces smoked pork sausage, such as andouille, sliced into coins

12 ounces frozen vegetables, such as onion-bell pepper mix (a mix of fresh vegetables can be substituted)

1 heaping teaspoon whole ground or Creole mustard

13 cup heavy cream, or more to taste

Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook the penne until al dente. Scoop out 14 cup of cooking water and then drain the noodles. Return the noodles to the pot and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook until some fat begins to render and the sausage begins to turn golden, for 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the pot of noodles. Give the fat in the skillet a minute or so to get smoking hot again, and then add the vegetable mix and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Saute the vegetables until tender.

Pour the noodles and sausage into the hot skillet with the vegetables, followed by the mustard and heavy cream. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook until the cream has thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings.

For leftovers, stir in the reserved cooking water and reheat in a skillet or microwave until warmed through.

Makes 2 servings.

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