Little Italy Mercato: Fresh Pappardelle with Sausage and a Salad

Farmer's Market Little Italy, San Diego
Mother’s Day weekend found us enjoying a relaxing two days filled with food this year.  Big surprise, right?  To be fair, it all began with a visit to Little Italy’s Mercato — more for a Saturday morning downtown than the possibility of what we might purchase.  And purchase we did.  The sole market bag we brought didn’t quite hold what we ended up with — most of it chosen for either dinner that night, or breakfast the next day.

We don’t often venture downtown, but when we do, we’re left questioning why we don’t go more frequently.  It’s fairly quiet on the weekends, and with more and more residents occupying the high-rise condominiums, the sidewalks are dotted with dog-walkers, those who have stopped to have a latte with the morning paper, and lots of farmer’s market shoppers holding bunches of flowers and bags overflowing with weekend cooking possibilities.

In much the same way we do when traveling, we pause in front of a real estate office and scan the photos of “For Sale” properties in the area, imagining ourselves living there instead of where we currently live.  It’s a pleasant pastime we’ve entertained ourselves with seemingly forever — especially in the years when we could barely afford to dream.  What is it about being able to walk just about everywhere one needs to go in a day’s time?  Could we actually get along with only one car?  Might we adjust to living without much of what we own, trading it in for a spectacular view and convenience?

Maybe — but it’s all a game of wondering that takes second fiddle to the marvelous array of fresh offerings we sampled and purchased that day.  The jacarandas were in bloom, the weather was perfect, so why not relax and enjoy the possibilities.

Pasta and a salad?  Or maybe stuffed French toast.

What about all three?

Fresh Italian Herb Pappardelle with Sausage

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage, sliced into rounds

1 lg. shallot, sliced

4 lg. cloves garlic

freshly cracked pepper

sea salt

4 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated

1/4 c. wild arugula

1/2 c. flat leafed parsley

1 lb. fresh Italian herb pappardelle

Put 4 qts. of water over high heat for the pasta.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the sausage and shallots, stirring occasionally, and cook until the sausage begins to brown and the shallots are softened.  Add the garlic and stir, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Add a few good pinches of kosher salt to the boiling water, then add the fresh pasta a bit at a time, stirring gently to make sure the pieces are loosely cooking.  Cook for 3-1/2 to 4 minutes at most.  Pour cooked pasta into a strainer placed over a large bowl or other container to reserve the pasta water.  Pour off all but about 1/4 c. and set aside.

Add the pasta to the reserved sausage mixture and gently stir.  Pour in the reserved 1/4 c. pasta water and mix.  Add the wild arugula, parsley, and half of the grated Parmesan to the mixture and lightly toss.  Season with salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Serve immediately with more of the grated Parmesan as needed.

For the salad…

mixed greens to include pea shoots and basil sprouts, and any other leafy, tender veg you have on hand

toss in some avocado

squeeze on some fresh key lime juice

sprinkle basil oil over

splash on a bit of very nice sherry vinegar

season with Fleur de Sel and cracked pepper

toss and serve

Farmer’s Market credits go to:  Belen Artisian Bakers, Lisko Imports, and Da-Le Ranch.  Wild arugula and parsley is home grown in my very small herb box.