serves 6-8

I credit the name of this dish to my friend Jana, she termed it a while back when eating out and trying to avoid carbs, she’d order “the pasta but with no pasta”, and when Brian and I were trying to eat mostly-keto, we did the same; but this recipe is mine. It starts as all of Patricia Well’s Italian sauce recipes start, with sautéing minced garlic in olive oil with a dash (¼-to½ tsp ) of crushed red pepper. This receipt is a loose recipe meant to guide you in pulling something together that will taste amazing. You can add/substitute any of your favorite ingredients. Though if you leave out any of the following, IMO, all bets are off: garlic, basil, mushrooms, Italian sausage.

This is not a 1 pan dish, though it does all come together in one pan as you “throw” everything together. You need a large pan/dutch oven to hold everything since it all needs to simmer together at the end to pull the flavors together.

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1+ cups fresh basil, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced ← ½ used sautéing mushrooms, ½ used sautéing shrimp
  • 6-to-8 T butter (a stick) ← for sautéing the mushrooms
  • 2 packages baby bell mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 bunches broccolini, sliced in 1½-to-2″ lengths ← this is your pasta substitute, you can use asparagus instead if you prefer
  • 1 package of sweet Italian sausage (6 links), removed from casing ← you can slice it instead if you prefer
  • [optional] shrimp (#of shrimp depends on #people and size of shrimp), peeled & deveined ← I tend to use 6-to-8 shrimp per person
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (no extra spices added)
  • 1+ large ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced in bite sized slices
  • large clump of small vine ripened tomatoes, quartered
  • As mentioned previously, this is not a 1 pan dish. You need
    • a large dutch oven, large enough to hold EVERYTHING to simmer at the very end
    • a pan to sauté the mushrooms in
    • a pan to cook the Italian sausage in
    • a pot to par-boil the broccolini in
    • a stainer to rinse broccolini in after par-boiling
  • Ingredients are listed in the order that I typically follow to prep and cook, some things can be done in parallel to reduce “time to table”
  • While you are waiting for the pot of water to boil for par-boiling the broccolini (or asparagus), start sautéing your mushrooms and Italian sausage (in separate pans)
    • in one skillet on low heat, add 2-to-4 T of butter and ½ of the minced garlic.
      • as soon as the garlic starts to become aromatic, add the sliced mushrooms.
      • you will need to add more butter, the amount depending on quantity of mushrooms you use. Keep stirring and adding butter until you can tell things wont stick and burn.
      • season with salt and pepper and then let mushrooms continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.
      • when they look “done”, typically 10-15 minutes, cover and set aside
    • in another skillet on low-to-medium heat, start cooking the Italian sausage. I use low heat mostly so that I don’t have to monitor the cooking as closely. Things can’t get too out of hand if I forget to monitor for a few minutes.
      • when done, cover and set aside
  • Once the pot of water is boiling, add the broccolini and let boil for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, rinse under cool water in a colander to stop the cooking process and then set aside.
  • I usually wait for the above things to be done before moving on to the next steps since things come together very quickly at this point; you are in the home stretch!
  • In the dutch oven, on low-to-medium heat, add 2-to-4 T olive oil (amount depends on the number of shrimp you are using), the remaining ½ of the minced garlic and the crushed red pepper
    • once the garlic starts to become aromatic, add the shrimp checking every few minutes and flipping once it looks ½ way done. This probably takes 5+ minutes.
    • once shrimp is done add the can of crushed tomatoes and stir
    • after a minute or two, add the mushrooms (juice and all), stir and let simmer a few minutes
    • add the chopped basil, stir and let simmer a few minutes
    • add the (cooked) Italian sausage, stir and let simmer a few minutes
    • add the par-boiled broccolini, stir, add lid and let simmer 5+ minutes. You want everything that has been sitting “aside” to get warmed up
    • at this point, if the table isn’t set for dinner, I’d take this opportunity to do it, or get someone to do it for you
    • add the fresh buffalo mozzarella, stir, add lid and let simmer another 3-5 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally. You want the cheese to start to melt before moving onto the final step
    • last step is to add the tomatoes. I add them last since I don’t like them to break down and be like canned tomatoes. Add tomatoes, cover and let simmer on low heat for a few more minutes. Let folks know that dinner is 2 minutes away!

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