Home Cooking with the chefs of Commerce Café


Join us once a month as we share the recipes our chefs love to make at home for their families with your families. Each recipe will have ingredients sourced in Lockhart and will be easy to make with limited equipment in your own home.

This month’s chef: Sarah Heard

Lockhart graduate/ Mom of a spunky 12-year-old /carb lover/Austin Chef of the Year by Culture Map 2021.

Rotini with Chicken Sausage, Eggplant, & Basil

HEB has a spinach and feta chicken sausage that I am obsessed with. It lends a delicate flavor and a meaty heart to a simple pasta sauce. If you are vegetarian, you can use sliced portabella mushrooms in place of the sausage, or simply omit it. Pasta is a staple in our house. Of course, we love making our own, but we all know that there simply isn’t always time to do so. I love Rao brand pasta, which is bronze die cut in Italy and most closely resembles the product that we make in the café. The bronze die gives the pasta a texture that soaks up the sauce beautifully.


1 lb rotini noodles, cook according to package and keep 1 cup starchy pasta water

2 TBS cooking oil (canola, vegetable, sunflower, etc)

1 package HEB spinach & feta chicken sausage

1 head fresh garlic, chopped, or ½ cup jarred chopped garlic

1 ea Italian eggplant, cut into grape sized pieces

¼ cup red wine (drink the rest!)

3# tomatoes, cut into grape sized pieces

1 small can tomato paste

1 small jar capers

1 small package fresh basil, chopped

1 oz olive oil + more to drizzle

Shredded parmesan to garnish

Wide bottomed pot with lid


Put 2 TBS cooking oil to the pan and turn on medium heat.

Once the pan is preheated, add the sausage carefully in a single layer with space between and put the lid on.

Cook the sausage with the lid on until the skin has browned nicely. Then turn and finish browning on both sides. This sausage is raw and must reach 165 degrees internally before you cut it.

Once the sausage is cooked thoroughly, remove from the pan and set aside to cut.

Add the eggplant to the sausage pan and cook for 3 minutes, then add garlic and stir.

Once the garlic is aromatic, deglaze with red wine and cover again. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add your cut tomatoes & tomato paste to the pan, stir, cover with the lid, and reduce temperature to low.

Stir sauce occasionally, making sure that the pan doesn’t dry out and burn.

Once the tomatoes have started to cook down & look saucy, add reserved pasta water to the sauce, allow to cook uncovered until it is sauce consistency again. Taste the sauce carefully and add salt and pepper as desired.

Cut the sausage into bite sized rounds. **If you don’t think that it has finished cooking once you’ve cut it, throw the cut sausage on a cookie sheet and into the oven at 350 degrees until all parts are white, and no pink is left. Sanitize any surfaces that touched the uncooked sausage immediately.

Add olive oil, capers, sausage, half of the basil, and the cooked pasta to the sauce and continue to cook on low for a few minutes while stirring to make sure that the sauce gets in all the crevices.

The best part: pile the pasta on your plate, grate or sprinkle some parmesan over the top, and salt bae some basil on there. I love to add cracked black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil at the very end to amplify Italy. Ciao loves!


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