By Alia Al-Chalabi

I’ve been consistently inspired by Bon Appetit’s “Pantry Pasta” recipes. As an ode to that, I thought I would share my go-to pantry pasta, which includes Merguez sausage. 

Merguez is an amazing type of North African sausage and is usually made of lamb or beef. It’s really common in Arab cooking and since it’s Ramadan, this is also a perfect meal for Iftar. I love having Merguez over pasta with a spicy red sauce. It’s really easy to make, spices up your pasta and also tastes amazing. This recipe is super versatile, so if you don’t have Merguez, try using a different type of spicy sausage. Also, whichever kind pasta you have on hand will work, from elbows to spaghetti noodles (my personal favorite is rigatoni). 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of dry pasta
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Merguez sausage 
  • 1 can tomatoes 
  • ½ small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup water  

Utensils:

  • 1 large pot
  • 1 frying pan  
  • 2 large bowls
  • 1 cutting board 
  • Chef’s knife 

Assembly:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then generously salt the water. Add your pasta and then cook until it’s just shy of al dente, about a minute or so less than the recommended time on the box. It will finish cooking in the sauce. 

Next, cut your Merguez sausage into tiny pieces; I like to do quarter-inch cubes. Merguez, unlike other sausage varieties, is not already cooked when you buy it, so place the chopped sausage in a hot frying pan with olive oil and cook for about five to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and then set it aside in a bowl. 

After cooking the sausage, crush the canned, peeled and (preferably) salted tomatoes by hand, and then set aside in a bowl. Finely chop the onion, and then place it in the same pan you cooked the Merguez in, making sure the fat is still on the pan. Sweat your onions, then add the garlic afterward. Warning: be careful not to burn your garlic. Next, add the tomatoes to the heat, and cook them down for about five minutes. Then add half a cup of the pasta water that’s working on the stove, seasoning it with salt, pepper and red pepper. Cover with a lid, and then let it sit for about 15 minutes.

Finally, combine the mixture with the Merguez and the pasta. Don’t be afraid to drip in some more of the pasta water, since it’s delicious and starchy. Mix it all together, and voila! Your very own “Pantry Pasta.”