Fettuccine With Merguez and Mint Pesto
For a pasta dish with sausage that’s bold and rustic, easy to whip up for dinner but intriguing enough for entertaining (the recipe can be doubled), I opted for merguez, the North African lamb sausage. The trick is having a market that sells merguez, or order it in bulk online to keep a supply in the freezer. To the merguez, I added the flavors of Morocco: mint, garlic, lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and a dusting of ground cumin. Thanks to some pasta water, these components all came together admirably to dress the pasta and suit the Bordeaux.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2large cloves garlic
- ¼cup pine nuts
- ⅔cup, packed, fresh mint leaves (about 2 small bunches)
- ⅓cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1large onion, finely chopped
- 1teaspoon ground cumin
- ½pound fresh merguez sausage, casing removed
- 6sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and finely slivered
- 15Kalamata olives, pitted
- 8ounces dried fettuccine, preferably spinach
- 2tablespoons lemon juice
Step 1Make the pesto: Turn on food processor, and drop garlic through feed tube to mince. Add pine nuts through the tube and grind. Add mint leaves and process until mixture is combined. Scrape down bowl, and with machine running, slowly drizzle in the 1/3 cup olive oil. Process until blended. Transfer to a small bowl and season to taste with salt. Set aside.
Step 2Make the pasta: Heat 3 quarts water in a large pot. As water comes to boil, heat oil in a large sauté pan, and sauté onion on medium-low until soft. Stir in cumin. Add merguez, increase heat to medium and cook, using two forks to break up the sausage and stirring all the while, until the meat is nubbly and no longer looks raw. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, olives and 2 tablespoons of the pesto. Reduce heat to low.
Step 3Add fettuccine to boiling water and cook about 5 minutes, until nearly al dente. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta water, and set pasta aside. Add pasta water to the merguez mixture and let cook until liquid in the pan just coats the ingredients. Stir in lemon juice. Add fettuccine to sauté pan, tossing with other ingredients over low heat. Add salt to taste. Transfer to individual bowls or a serving dish and serve with remaining pesto alongside.