After the most stressful driving experience in Siena, Tuscany, I was fortunate to end up in a little restaurant and have a really “comforting” meal, making up for the hour spent just prior.
Siena is a fascinating city. Dense, full of history, famous for (among many other things) the Palio Horse Race, still being held today in the heart of the city. Riders from various areas of the city compete in the Piazza del Campo. A passionate and serious event in magnificant colours representing 10 “contradas”, dating back as far as the 6th century. The prize is then displayed in the winning contarda’s museum: A large painted canvas created by a local artist.
Siena is a walking city, like so many ancient Roman cities. Driving is interesting. I want to qualify this. I grew up in Europe and consider myself a decent driver, not afraid of speed or difficult to maneuvre stretches of twisting roads, where cars and bicycles, motorcycles and tractors, and yes, also big trucks, compete for the same narrow lanes.
Unfortunately, even a GPS can be useless at times, and so it happened in Siena, that we found ourselves trapped in the pedestrian area very close to the cathedral, in the midst of thousands of tourists. Torn between being embarrassed and wanting to find a way out fast, we spotted a car and followed it, only to end up right in front of the Duomo Di Siena. No cars allowed, unless you are one of the lucky ones who have a permit, as the car ahead of us did. Every attempt to find a legal-to-drive-on alley failed for –what seemed to be a long, long and painful time.
A tour guide yelling at us at first quickly realized that we were lost rather than ignorant, and was kind enough to point us in the right direction. Phhhhhhheeeeewwwww!
If you have had a stressful day, stop by your grocery store, then go home and cook this pasta dish. I promise, it’ll make you feel better, too.
Penne Pasta with Sausage and Vegetables
- Cut onion and zucchini in slices, peppers in long strips. Peel garlic and chop finely.
- Remove sausage from casing and break into 1 inch pieces.
- Heat olive in a heavy pan to medium/high heat, stir fry vegetables except garlic for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove everything from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Fry sausage pieces for 2-3 minutes, adding some olive oil if needed- until cooked through and crispy. Remove from pan and add to vegetables.
- In the meantime bring 3L of water to a boil and add salt to taste. Cook pasta al dente.
- In a dry pan heated to medium high heat toast pine nuts to golden brown. Remove from pan immediately.
- Drain pasta, put it back in the pot on medium heat, add meat and vegetables. Drizzle a little olive oil all over and stir gently until just mixed and everything is nicely hot.
Serve on pasta plates and top with toasted nuts. Offer freshly grated Parmesan on the side.
- 300g penne pasta dry
- 2 Italian Sausages
- 1 Red Pepper
- 1 Yellow Pepper
- 1 large Zucchini
- 12 grape tomatoes
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 40g Pine Nuts
- Olive Oil
- 4 tbsp Parmesan