Monday, August 26, 2013

Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Spinach, and Smashed Tomatoes

This wasn't what I had planned to make for dinner tonight, but then Josh and I both bought Italian sausage at the store so I knew I needed to use one of them ASAP.   I had half a pint of grape tomatoes and 1/3 of a bag of spinach waiting to be used up so I decided to combine those three and make a quick one dish meal.  I apologize in advance for a severe lack of amounts in the ingredients.  This was a "to taste" recipe.

I forgot the Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, thyme)
Have you tried this white fiber pasta yet?  It is called "mini" but it cooks up to be pretty big.  Added to that, it cooks in 4-5 minutes which is a huge plus in my book.  I highly recommend it.

Start out by heating up a large saute pan (one big enough to hold all of the ingredients at the end) coated with cooking spray.  Then add in about a pound of Italian sausage (I used chicken sausage) breaking it up as it cooks.  When it is cooked set the sausage aside and wipe out the pan with a paper towel.  (If you use pork sausage you may need to drain it first, the chicken doesn't really leave fat.)

Fill a pot with water to boil the pasta.  While you wait for your water to boil, start the sauce.  

Add some olive oil to the pan and heat it over low heat.  I never measure olive oil, I just swirl around the pan a few times a la Rachael Ray.  When the oil is hot toss in 3 whole cloves of garlic.

Saute the garlic for about 5 minutes flipping the garlic around a couple of times.  Then add some basil, oregano, thyme (you can also just use a pre-made Italian seasoning), and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Once the garlic is starting to get softer and golden add in grape tomatoes (I used 1/2 a pint but I think a full pint would have been even better).  Cover the pan and let the tomatoes and garlic saute for about 5 minutes (shaking the pan back and forth a few times) until the tomatoes are soft and bursting their skin.  

Somewhere in here your water should be boiling so put your pasta in.  If you are using the white fiber, remember it only takes about 5 minutes to boil.

Now for the fun part.  If you aren't wearing an apron, you may want to throw one on.  Take your potato masher and gently mash up the garlic and tomatoes.  Not all of my tomatoes had burst their skin so they squirted a bit when I mashed them.  It all stayed in the pan, but better safe than sorry if you ask me (and the pale pink dress I was wearing).

When everything is nice and mashed...

throw on a few handfuls of baby spinach and add the sausage back in.  Stir it all together.  

By now your pasta should be cooked.  Stir the pasta and 1/4 cup of parmesan into the sauce and if it is a little dry you can add in a little more olive oil or about 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  If you want, you can stop here.  This was what I intended to have for dinner.

While I was taking this photo the pregnant voice in my head told me that this really could use some more cheese, and I have zero willpower.  Soooo, I poured this back in the pan and added about 1/2 a cup of Trader Joe's quattro formaggio.  If you don't have a TJ's this is a blend of shredded parmesan, asiago, provolone, and fontina.

 That's more like it.  If you ask me, everything is better with more cheese.  If I'm totally honest, I served this with extra grated parmesan and red pepper flakes on the side.  I can't help myself.

Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Spinach, and Smashed Tomatoes

  • 1 lb. bulk chicken Italian sausage
  • 1/2 box pasta (I used Barilla White Fiber Mini Rotini)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 pint to 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • dried basil, oregano, and thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 - 1/2 bag baby spinach
  • grated parmesan
  • TJ's quattro formaggio (optional)
  1.  Heat a large saute pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks.  When the sausage is cooked through, remove it from the pan and wipe it out with a paper towel.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and add the olive oil to the pan.  Once it is heated add the garlic cloves to the pan whole and saute, flipping the garlic a few times, for about 5 minutes or until the garlic is starting to soften and turn golden.  Then add the tomatoes, a few shakes each of basil and oregano, a pinch of thyme, and a pinch of red pepper.  Cover the pan and saute for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan a few times to move them around.
  3. Meanwhile start your pasta.  *Keep in mind if you use the white fiber that it only takes about 5 minutes to cook.
  4. When your tomatoes are soft and the skins are bursting take a potato masher and mash the tomatoes and garlic.  Then stir in the spinach and the cooked sausage.
  5. Add in your cooked pasta, 1/4 cup parmesan, and the 1/2 cup quattro formaggio if desired.
  6. Stir it all together.  If it seems a little dry, add 1/4 cup pasta water or some more olive oil.
  7. Enjoy!

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