I mentioned a few days ago that I took Ben to our new Whole Foods for the first time last weekend. It was…hilarious.
Although Ben and I share a mutual love for good, quality food and groceries, he’d been refusing to go ever since it opened a few months ago because he has no patience for crowds. Except at concerts where I think he feels the more the merrier. Riddle me that?
Anyways, the place is still a zoo every time I go, which is about 3 times a week (send help,) so up until now it’s been a big fat negatory when I suggest we go there and hang out. HANG OUT. ANYWAYS, we were cruising around town last Saturday running errands, when out of nowhere he suggests we stop and make his inaugural visit.
Huh? On a Saturday? The busiest day of the week?
Fine we won’t go.
Too late you already said it!
Whee – a semi-sanctioned trip to Whole Foods! We arrived shortly thereafter, and left an hour and a half later. I practically had to drag the man out!
Let’s make stuff with cactus! he exclaimed after seeing the large bins of unusual foods. We should grind our own fat-pill butter! he tried to convince me after seeing the grind your own nut-butter station (he calls cashews fat-pills. I don’t even…) THERE’S BLUEBERRIES IN THAT SAUSAGE! he squealed after seeing the sausage display case with dozens – literally, dozens – of different types of fresh sausages.
It was awesome.
We explored every aisle, pointing out this and that to each other, then left with cough, 2 cases of La Croix. I know! We were too overwhelmed with the plethora of choices! Even though I’d already been there dozens of times, it was also my first time to really explore the place. Whole Foods seriously has it all – especially this time of year.
I clapped when I saw smooth, tan butternut squash packed into an end cap in the produce department, and was tickled to see more organic apple varieties had been stocked from the last time I’d been there. Also, taking up a big display in the front of the store? Grapes. Tons of ‘em in every color and variety.
Grapes are the semi-forgotten fall fruit, often overlooked for the aforementioned and always popular squash and apple crops, but they’re at their absolute best this time of year too. Tight clusters, crisp skin, sweet flesh – grapes are great to have on hand right now to snack on and, as I recently found out, to cook with.
Oh yes – calling all adventurous eaters! Today we are incorporating grapes into a quick and super-unique supper: Sausage, Grape & Pasta Skillet.
Sweet, red seedless grapes are swirled and reduced with sauteed shallots, garlic, sausage, red chili pepper flakes, and chicken broth, then tossed with chewy pasta to create a quick skillet supper that is beyond imagination. Savory, with pops of sweet and heat – this dish sounds unusual, but I promise there won’t be any leftovers.
Start by assembling the ingredients for the Sausage, Grape & Pasta Skillet. I find it’s nice to have everything ready to go before you start cooking quick-fix dishes like this one. That way you’re not scrambling around trying to chop garlic while the sausage is burning, or something…
First cook 10oz orecchiette pasta in salted, boiling water then drain and set aside. I know I just used these, but I also happen to have a pasta purchasing problem as evidenced by the 49 boxes of different shaped pasta in my cupboard at the moment. I’ve committed to using them ALL up before buying anything new!
That is to say, use any short cut pasta you have on hand.
Meanwhile, cook 2 spicy Italian chicken or turkey sausage links in a large skillet next door (half batch pictures alert.) We’re just getting them firm enough to slice, not cooked all the way through, so cook for 1 minute on all 4 sides before removing to a plate and slicing into 1/4″ rings.
You can use whatever sausage you want for this skillet, btw. I used Apple Maple Chicken Sausage when I made this dish sans grapes for Ben (he’s not that adventurous – but you are!) earlier this week, and it was awesome. Oh also, use a sharp knife to poke a couple hole in the casings so they don’t burst.
K. With the sausages sliced and out of the way, heat 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, in the same skillet then add 1 large sliced shallot and 2 minced garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper, then saute until the shallots are tender, about 3 minutes.
Next add in 2 cups halved red grapes, 1-1/4 cups chicken broth, and 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes.
Add a few more dashes of salt and pepper, then turn up the heat and let the sauce simmer until it has slightly thickened, the sausage is cooked through, and the grapes are nice and juicy, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the cooked and drained pasta…
then 2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese.
Toss and hoss!
Sausage, Grape & Pasta Skillet
Slightly adapted from Epicurious
10oz orecchiette (or other short-cut pasta)
2 spicy Italian chicken or turkey sausage links (about 7oz)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
1-1/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more or less)
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water then drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat, spray with non-stick spray, then cook sausages for about 1 minute on all four sides, or until firm enough to slice (do not have to be cooked all the way through.) Remove from skillet, cut into 1/4″ slices, then set aside.
- Heat olive oil in the same skillet then add shallots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper then saute until shallots are tender, about 3 minutes. Add sliced sausages, grape halves, chicken broth, and red pepper flakes to the skillet, season with more salt and pepper, then raise heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened.
- Add cooked pasta and parmesan cheese to the skillet then toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley, if desired.
This skillet is an awesome way to use one of Fall’s finest fruits! Seriously loved the combo of sweet, warm grape, with hot, spicy sausage. You will totally find your fork wandering back to the skillet for more and more tastes. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya’!
What fall delicacies are you most looking forward to enjoying this year?
I’m going to try and get into spaghetti squash this fall. It’s healthy and low-carb which is a win/win in my book. Now to make it tasty… Also the combo of honey roasted peanuts + candy corn that I can never get enough of around this time of year. Delish! Oh, and Honeycrisps, natch!