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Extinguish Hunger with Firehouse Pasta

Chef Pauli shares recipe with local firefighters

They say if you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.  But if anyone can stand the heat, it’s a firefighter, and firehouse kitchens have developed the reputation of dishing up some delicious meals. Fayette County Station 6 in Brooks was no exception recently when Chef Pauli Reep treated FAO (Fire Apparatus Operator) Ken Moon and Lt. Joe Beshers to an easy-to-prepare and appropriately-named recipe—Firehouse Pasta.

With its red-tiled floor, blond cabinets, maroon countertops, and a dining table bought at a prison surplus sale, the Station 6 kitchen hardly screams gourmet. But with Chef Pauli’s guidance, Moon and Beshers, who are usually on shift together, had the hearty, one-pan meal on the table almost as fast as a sprint to the fire engine. Both firefighters and EMA Director, Capt. Brian Davis, who was visiting the station, extinguished their hunger quickly after making their servings four-alarm with additional hot sauce.

On-shift for 24 hours straight before being off for 48, Moon and Beshers normally don’t have a professional chef cooking their meals. They admit they usually rely on food picked up on the way to work or bring leftovers from home. Few restaurants will deliver all the way to Brooks. When they do cook at the station, they furnish their own groceries. Each firefighter also chips in money each month to buy shared essentials such as condiments and coffee. Three boxes of Girl Scout cookies on the counter, all that remains from a case donated by Girl Scouts touring the station, are evidence they also enjoy snacks.

A firefighter for 30 years, Moon, who lives in Cumming, enjoys grilling chicken and pork chops. “I love to cook,” he said. Beshers, who lives in Sharpsburg, has been a firefighter for nine years. He sometimes cooks dishes such as chicken and rice and particularly enjoys spicy food. No matter what’s cooking at the station, the radio room’s chatter is always in the background. The firefighters are always listening for the station’s specific tone that alerts them that they need to respond to a fire or medical emergency. Capt. Davis, who lives in Brooks, appreciates the sacrifice these firefighters make, missing many holidays and events with their families. “They’re always ready to respond,” he said.  

If the station tone sounds while they're cooking, they turn off the stove and run. When they return to their food, Moon said, “Sometimes it turns out well and sometimes we have to order delivery.”

When they’re not responding to emergencies, the firefighters train, maintain equipment and supplies, and baby their fire trucks, which are often washed three times a week.

And just in case they eat too much, they have a small workout room where they can stay in shape with exercise equipment—painted fire engine red, of course.  

Fireman’s Pasta

Serves: 6

  • 12 oz uncooked penne pasta

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 lb Italian sausage links, casings removed

  • 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning

  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 5 - 6 oz. bag fresh spinach

  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 6 oz oil-packed julienned sun-dried tomatoes

  • 7 oz roasted red bell peppers, sliced.

  • 1 (15 oz) can natural black olives, drained and halved

  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh basil

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Tabasco or other hot sauce (like Frank’s RedHot), for serving

  • Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Cooking Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, and set aside.
Add the olive oil to a large, deep, nonstick skillet. Use your hands to break up the Italian sausage into small crumbles and sprinkle them evenly inside the skillet. Turn up the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and Italian seasoning to the skillet, then add as much fresh spinach as will fit. Stir the spinach into the sausage mixture, adding more spinach as it wilts & creates more room. Continue until all the spinach has been added and wilted.
Next, add the fire-roasted tomatoes, wine, sun-dried tomatoes, bell peppers, and olives. Stir, and let simmer for about 5 minutes to let the flavors meld.
Add the pasta, fresh basil, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Cook for just a minute to warm the pasta, then turn off the heat. Spoon the pasta into bowls, drizzle with hot sauce, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and enjoy!

  • Photo by Chef Pauli