I have to admit that this pasta was not exactly what I intended to make tonight. I really intended to make pasta with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe, but it appears that either I bought the broccoli rabe and left it behind at the store, or I never actually bought it in the first place and only thought that I did. I'm not sure which option is better. I guess the latter because while it might make me delusional, at least I didn't waste any money on vegetables that didn't make it home with me?
This is the perfect type of pasta to really fill you up and stick to your ribs, without making you feel heavy and gross. I was absolutely, positively starving when I got home from work today. It was one of what I call my "insatiably hungry" days where I can't help but eat everything in sight. Granted, this time my insatiable hunger is probably due to the amount of time I have spent tromping around in the snow with the dog the past few days. Who knew that playing in the snow could be such a work out! This pasta was exactly what I needed - simple, hearty, delicious, and filling. It also didn't take a lot of time and effort to cook, nor did it require any unusual ingredients or extra shopping trips. Instead it is something of a fridge clearing pasta that you can throw together with almost anything you have in the fridge. Because we used whole wheat penne and lots of vegetables (we substituted broccolini and baby spinach for the missing broccoli rabe), I didn't even feel that guilty about eating going back for seconds! I guess we could also have substituted turkey sausage for pork, but that might be taking things entirely too far.
Recipe after the jump!
Whole Wheat Penne with Italian Sausage and Spinach
1 bunch broccolini
3 spicy Italian sausages, meat removed from casing
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp evoo
4 oz. baby spinach
3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional for garnish
1/2 lb. whole wheat penne
Blanch broccolini in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Remove from water and shock in an ice bath. Drain.
Brown crumbled sausage in a large saute pan over medium heat until fully cooked, stirring regularly. Remove sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the rendered oil behind. Add garlic, and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add evoo to the pan. Add spinach and saute until wilted. Add blanched broccolini. Season with s&p. Stir to combine. Return Italian sausage to the pan. Add chopped parsley.
Meanwhile cook pasta in the same large pot of boiling salted water. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Add pasta to the saute pan, along with 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and parm-reg. Toss to combine, adding more water as necessary so that the cheese melts and a light sauce forms.
Serve in bowls, garnished with more parm-reg, if desired.