2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 or 1 large onion (less if you don't like onions so much)
2 ribs celery
1/3 c. water
1 lb. mild or hot Italian sausage*
1 c. dry white wine (Pinot Grigio is good, or Sutter Home makes an alcohol-free Chardonnay under the "Fre" label. Might be hard to find anywhere but the Smith's in the Avenues, though. You could also try white grape juice.)
1 six-ounce can tomato paste
2 1/2 c. low-fat milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 15-ounce pkg penne pasta
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
6 T. grated Parmesan cheese
*One variation I've tried and liked has been to buy mild Italian link sausage and cook it the night before, put it in the fridge, and then cut it into "coins" when I make the recipe. It makes the prep time a little longer, but it speeds up the cooking time later. Also: Adding red, yellow, or orange bell peppers makes for a more interesting looking recipe.
Mince the onions, carrots, and celery. Set aside. Chop parsley, set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about five minutes. Stir in the carrots, celery, and water and cook until the vegetables are tender and the water has evaporated, about five minutes. Stir in the Italian sausage and cook until no longer pink (here's where it gets faster--if you've already cooked the linked sausage, skip ahead a couple of minutes), about four minutes. Add the wine (or wine substitute) and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about five minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups of the milk and the salt, pepper, and oregano. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the milk has been absorbed. Continue to cook, gradually adding the rest of the milk, until the sauce is thick and creamy, and the milk has been absorbed, about twenty minutes longer. Meanwhile, cook the penne pasta in a large pot of boiling water until just tender. Drain. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl. Add the pasta, parsley, and Parmesan cheese and toss to combine.