Roly-Poly Pasta: Shells with Turkey Sausage

Cook’s Notes: A definite winner and new family favorite in the colors of the Italian flag. The fresh mozzarella balls melt into the hot pasta, and the round shapes are echoed by the bite-sized sausage slices. This dish is quick to make, nicely balanced with protein and pasta, and visually pleasing.

10.5 oz “rainbow” tri-color pasta shells (we bought ours in bulk at the grocery store)
2 T butter
1/4 c shredded Parmesan cheese
8 oz tub fresh mozzarella balls (“boconcini”), drained

4 mild chicken sausage links, about 1.4 lbs
2 tsp minced garlic
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes — do not drain
12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
Fresh basil, 8 to 12 leaves, diced

Preparation hint: Prepare the sauce while you cook the pasta.

PASTA: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain cooked pasta; add butter and stir until butter melts in. Toss with shredded Parmesan. Gently stir in the mozzarella balls.

SAUCE: While the water boils, slice the sausage into bite-size balls. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage in 1 T olive oil, stirring constantly until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir well, toasting the garlic lightly. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the red pepper pieces, and 1/2 c water. Cover the skillet and simmer the sauce for 10 to 12 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the pasta. Stir gently to combine. Mozzarella balls will melt into the dish. Garnish with fresh basil to taste. Makes about 8 servings.

Recipe source
: Inspired by the cover recipe of Everyday Food, September 2007 (issue 45)