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.

20 thoughts on “Little Italy Mercato: Fresh Pappardelle with Sausage and a Salad

    1. Hi Magdalena, and thanks! I’ve not tried cotecchino before, but it sounds delicious — especially with risotto. I’ve seen some great recipes that serve it with lentils as well.

  1. Some friends and I checked out the mercato for the first time last week and really enjoyed it. It made me miss living downtown so much! The pasta dish looks great – simple but flavorful. I have some good vegetarian Italian “sausage” that I keep meaning to use and I think it would do nicely.
    .-= Stacy (Little Blue Hen)´s last blog ..beans, beans, the magical fruit =-.

    1. It was our first time going as well. The La Jolla and PB markets are much closer, so heading out to others doesn’t happen often. I think the Hillcrest market is next. I heard that one is great! Is the vegetarian sausage you are thinking of using made with tofu or legumes?

  2. I spent a weekend in San Diego going up and down this street and I remember the building very well! However when I was there the jacaranda was not in bloom! It was sunny though and I had a leisurely breakfast at a spot of which I forgot the name but they had great waffles; anyway, your pasta looks superb! I wish I could find a restaurant that would make a pasta like this! the photos too are very beautiful.
    Beware of wild sumac, I heard that it is poisonous; the one I buy is from middle-eastern grocer and imported; also sold on Amazon.

    1. Thanks — there’s nothing quite like a street with a row of blooming jacarandas. They’re gorgeous. With all the great food you make, you should try making your own pasta. I have a couple of times and decided that until I get an attachment for my Kitchen Aid, I just have to wait until I make more. On the wild sumac — I remember that it was poisonous. We cut it down once a year to get it out of our yard. The smell was definitely a distinctive one! I’ll have to try some powdered sumac…

  3. How gorgeous. I have to visit – it looks wonderful. As for the pasta dish…incredible. It looks absolutely divine.

  4. Wow, what a beautiful town. And what a delicious looking dish! I love Pappardelle pasta…I am craving it now. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I love yours and will continue to visit. Ciao!
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Quit looking at My Bundt! =-.

  5. sausage makes me swoon. i suspect that fresh pasta would, too, but guess what–i’ve NEVER had it! sad story, right? thanks for sharing your little excursion with us. 🙂
    .-= grace´s last blog ..festive but flawed =-.

  6. Mmm, I love the mercado, I try to get there as early as possible for the wonderful schaener farm eggs (‘which kind would you like’-WOW!!) although the other vendors didnt seem so happy to see me so early! Maybe I’ll bump into you one of these days!

  7. Your pasta looks wonderful! I love all of the herbs in both dishes, espeically in that beautiful, bright salad. All of your greens look so pretty… I have been throwing pea shoots in everything lately!

  8. So simple and lookin’ so tasty. Love the colors of your salad – the purple is just gorgeous. I love the taste of pea shoots in salad – I know they are pea shoots, but I’m always surprised at how much like peas they taste.

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