1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb. smoked sausage (preferably Andouille)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 10 oz. bag frozen "seasoning mix"*
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 Tbsp Creole seasoning**
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp thyme
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 lb. penne pasta
2 Tbsp half & half or cream
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch green onions
Slice the smoked sausage into thin rounds, then cut any larger pieces in half. Add the sausage and vegetable oil to a large pot and cook over medium heat until the sausage is well browned (about 5 minutes).
Mince two cloves of garlic and add them to the pot. Sauté' for one to two minutes, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Add the bag of frozen seasoning mix and sauté until heated through (3-5 minutes). Finally, add the can of diced tomatoes (with juices), Creole seasoning, oregano, smoked paprika, thyme, freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of a pepper mill), chicken broth, 1 cup of water, and pasta to the pot. Stir until everything is evenly combined.
Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let the pot come to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, remove the lid briefly to stir, then replace the lid, turn the heat down to low, and let the pot simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir the pot once every few minutes as it simmers to prevent the pasta from sticking. Replace the lid as quickly as possible after stirring to avoid heat loss.
While the pasta is simmering, pull the parsley leaves from the stems and give them a good chop, and slice the green onions. Once the pasta is tender, most of the liquid in the pot should be absorbed. If it's still a bit soupy, let the pot simmer for one to two minutes without the lid to allow some moisture to evaporate.
Turn off the heat and stir in the half & half or cream. Stir in most of the chopped parsley and green onions, reserving some to sprinkle over top. Serve hot with a pinch of fresh parsley and green onions on top of each bowl.
* The "seasoning mix" used is a pre-chopped and frozen blend of onion, bell pepper, and celery, also known as "trinity". If you prefer to use fresh, chop one yellow onion, one green bell pepper, and two stalks of celery.
** Creole seasoning can be found in most major grocery stores, but you can make your own using the recipe below. Store bought Creole seasoning blends usually contain a lot of salt, so if you make your own, you may need to add extra salt to the final product to compensate.
Creole Seasoning Mix
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika.
2 tablespoons salt.
2 tablespoons garlic powder.
1 tablespoon onion powder.
1 tablespoon black pepper.
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper.
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano.
1 tablespoon dried leaf thyme