When time is a problem, pasta will save the day; Entertaining: Guests will enjoy your company as well as your cooking with this fettuccine recipe.


When I entertain and am short on time, I almost always choose pasta as the main course. That's exactly what I did several days ago when cooking dinner for out-of-town friends who were here for a visit. I knew there would be no free hours during the day to prepare food, so I planned a simple menu of Fettuccine With Tomatoes, Artichokes and Sausage to serve with a mixed green salad and warm, crusty bread. Dessert consisted of carefully selected store-bought sweets and included grapefruit sorbet and cookies from a local bakery.

This particular pasta dish makes an ideal entree when you can't spend much time in the kitchen. I sauteed spicy Italian sausage and then added chopped onions, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and capers before simmering the mixture in white wine and chicken stock. The sauce was done in about 30 minutes and the fresh fettuccine took only a few minutes to cook. For serving, the warm noodles were tossed with Parmesan cheese and then topped with the colorful vegetables and sausage.

Because traditional sausages tend to be high in fat and our guests were conscientious waistline watchers, I used a reduced-fat Italian-style chicken sausage and was delighted with the results. I selected a hot, spicy variety of sausage since everyone in our group liked highly seasoned food, but you could use half spicy and half mild sausages if you prefer less piquant flavorings.

Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Artichokes and Sausage

Serves 4 to 5

1 pound spicy Italian sausage, preferably low-fat variety (see note)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen, sliced artichoke hearts, defrosted and patted dry

salt, freshly ground black pepper

2 (28-ounce) cans Italian-style tomatoes, drained well and coarsely chopped

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 pounds fresh fettuccine

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiana Reggiano

2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Remove casings from sausages and break up meat. Heat oil in large 11- to 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add sausage and cook and stir until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions and artichoke hearts and cook and stir until onions are softened, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Add 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper, tomatoes, chicken stock, wine and capers, and bring mixture to simmer. Lower heat and cook, uncovered, until most of liquid has evaporated, 30 minutes or longer. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. (Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat, stirring, when needed.)

When ready to serve, bring large pot of water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and fettuccine and cook until noodles are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain noodles in colander and then return to pot in which they were cooked. Toss with all but 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Transfer pasta to large platter. Ladle sauce over top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and parsley.

Note: Lower-fat Italian chicken sausage is available in many markets and works well in this recipe. I like spicy food and used spicy Italian chicken sausages in this dish. If you prefer a milder taste, you could use half spicy Italian chicken sausages and half sweet Italian chicken sausages.

Pub Date: 02/07/99

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