By Gabriela Iancu, contributor

Cooking with healthy, simple ingredients isn’t difficult at all. Treat yourself with an Italian dish with American Southern influences. Take advantage of the local pecan nuts and use them in abundance in this recipe. Toast them well and they will transform the old spaghetti recipe. This is my take on classic spaghetti dish, for the rainy days in Atlanta and the exhausting school days, when all you want is comforting good food made at home. These spaghetti are amazing because of the nutty texture, crispness of the sausage and spiciness of the chilli. Freshen it up with a lot of herbs, such as parsley and basil.

Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

Photo by Gabriela Iancu, contributor.
Photo by Gabriela Iancu, contributor.

10 ½ ounces spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
200g white mushrooms, diced
3 ½ ounce  pork sausage, diced
1/3 cup white wine
3 sprigs thyme
4 ½ tablespoons soft Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons light sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful Pecans, toasted and chopped
2 long red chilli, de-seeded and very finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
a handful flat leaf parsley
few fresh basil leaves
3 ½ tablespoons parmigiano

Directions:

1. Fill a large pot with salted water, bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for 8-12 minutes or until al dente. Drain and keep 1/3 cup pasta water in the pot, you will use it later on for the pasta sauce.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan set over medium heat, add the onions and sausage and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, stir to combine and fry over low-medium heat until most of the moisture has been removed from the mushrooms. Add wine and thyme leaves, stir and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

3. While simmering, add pecans to a frying pan drizzled with few drops of olive oil, add in the minced garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes over medium-heat tossing the pan often to avoid burning. Remove nuts from pan, allow to cool a little, then chop roughly.

4. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan, along with pasta water, tossing well. Add the sour cream and Gruyere cheese and stir in to combine. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook in the pan for a 1-2 minutes more.

5. Serve cooked spaghetti with the warm mushroom and sausage mixture along with the toasted pecans, chopped parsley, basil, chilli. Sprinkle parmigiano on top.