A new meat market recently opened in my town, and I can’t wait to try it. Just a few years ago, meat markets were few and far between in my area. When I was pregnant with Paige, I spent hours searching the internet for butchers and meat markets in the area, coming up with little. Lately though, that has started to change and there seems to be a resurgence of specialty food stores. With two meat markets now in town, I am excited that shopping is getting back to the way I grew up with.
When I was a little girl, my grandmother and I would hit the grocery store for staples, and then head to the meat market for whatever meat would go with dinner. There was this one market that sold all sorts of wursts — German sausages — and I loved looking at the different colors through the display case. My favorite wurst? Bratwurst, which is an off-putting gray, but delicious all the same. So, when I saw a precooked version at the grocery store recently, I picked it up … hoping it might be like I remember (and be super fast for a busy night).
I know, it’s not what I grew up with … but it was a passable substitution until I can find a meat market that does wursts well.
In any case, it was absolutely perfect for a fast dinner, which is what I do every Monday. That’s my busy day, so I only do quick dinners on Mondays. Basically, dinner needs to come together in under 20 minutes and with minimal effort. I can’t bother with long preparations or complicated dishes on that one day. Easy is what works.
So, with easy in mind, I pulled the precooked bratwurst from my freezer. But what would I serve them with? At first I thought maybe rice. No, tortellini. No. potatoes. But then it came to me — mix them with pasta, steamed broccoli and a little garlic-infused oil. Simple. Easy. Less than 20 minutes.
This dish has simple flavors, but it just hit the spot. And not just for me — Will and Paige both went back for seconds.
What do you cook when you don’t have time?
Penne with Bratwurst and Broccoli
- 1/2 lb penne or mini penne
- 4 precooked bratwurst links
- 2-3 cups chopped and steamed broccoli
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Boil water and cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat the bratwurst.
- Once the bratwurst are heated through, slice them into 1/4 inch disks and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the broccoli and pasta to the bowl as well. Mix well. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just softened. Pour the garlic oil over the pasta mixture. Toss well.
- Salt and pepper the pasta mixture and toss again. Serve immediately.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.