I didn’t want to leave anything out in the title–I’m in love with all the ingredients in this dish.

I quite often buy chicken sausage when I go to the store. It isn’t usually part of my “menu plan” for the week. I buy it for these days:

  • Days when I don’t have a meal planned.
  • Days when I’m not “feeling” what I have planned.
  • Days when something goes wrong with what I have planned. Which never happens. (Eye roll.)
  • Days when I end up not having time to make what I have planned. Those are usually nights when my hubs gets home late from work. We don’t let my daughter watch TV yet, so it is hard to prepare dinner unless he is home to help keep her entertained.

 

I like it because it keeps for a while in the fridge. Gross? I’m over that. I like that it keeps for at least a couple weeks so I always have a back-up plan. I also like it is versatile. I can serve it with rice and veggies or a I can throw it into a pasta with whatever I have in the house. I also like the different varieties offered, because I find that they inspire recipes (such as this one.) Note: This is not a sponsored post–I’ve just been on a chicken sausage kick. I haven’t found one particular variety of chicken sausage that I love over all other varieties, I buy what is on sale.

 

Like I said, I was inspired by this variety of chicken sausage. I tossed it with whole wheat pasta, tons of veggies, and fresh mozzarella. Healthy, filling, delicious. And as always, easy.

I topped this pasta with toasted pine nuts. Or if you’re a fancy-pants: Pignolias. I could eat the suckers by the handful. But I’d go broke. If you’re not a fan, you can eat this pasta without them, or you could grate some Parmesan over the top. But I would strongly encourage the addition of the pine nuts.

To toast, I throw my pine nuts on a paper towel and heat them in the microwave, 30 second intervals until they are toasted and fragrant. Don’t tell anyone that I cheat and use the microwave, but why get another pan out?

Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Spinach and Basil
a NotRachaelRay Original

12 oz pasta–I used whole wheat penne rigate
reserved pasta water
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 oz chicken sausage, sliced (I used sun-dried tomato with mozzarella)
16 oz sliced white mushrooms (baby bellas would work too)
3 oz fresh baby spinach
5 oz grape tomatoes
1 cup fresh mozzarella pearls (you can dice up any type but the pearls are oh-so-cute!)
1/2 chopped fresh basil
toasted pine nuts for garnish, optional

1. Put on water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in sliced sausage and cook until browned and slightly crispy. Keep an eye on them, I almost burnt mine! Remove to a paper-towel lined plate.
3. Toss in mushrooms and sauté until browned and cooked. Toss in spinach and grape tomatoes and cook until spinach is wilted and tomatoes begin to split.
4. Remove from heat and add in cooked pasta, basil and mozzarella pearls. Stir to combine, adding reserved pasta water to achieve your desired consistency. (I added ~1/2 cup of reserved pasta water.)
5. Garnish with toasted pine nuts.

Verdict: So tasty! Loved all the flavors in this pasta. Great meal for a busy week night. Good left over too!
Husband’s take: He loved this pasta. He said “This would cost 20 bucks in restaurant.” (I love this man.)
Changes I would make: None! Well, I’d try to cook my sausage a little more evenly, but it still tasted great.
Difficulty: Easy! I’d recommend doing some veggie preparation beforehand, that way you can keep a closer eye on your sausage while it is browning. I’m not naming any names, but that is where someone (okay, ME!) nearly failed in this recipe.