Chicken Sausage Pasta

24 Jan

There is something about January that makes people want to diet and exercise. Just the word diet implies so much “yuck” that I have come to detest that word. To me, it stands for, “You can’t eat this, or that, or that, or that…” and well, you get the picture. But one thing you shouldn’t have to give up, sausage! Just like I use ground turkey for ground beef, I substitute chicken sausage for regular sausage.

I’ve made a few dishes with chicken sausage, but my favorite includes a small bed of pasta, topped with marinara, sautéed spinach, and then sliced sausage. The final product is impressive, but the process and ingredients are so easy.

First, in a medium size pot, heat four cups of water to a boil for your pasta. Add 1/2 tsp salt if desired (I always add salt to my pasta water, even just a pinch makes a difference!).

First, add 1 tbsp olive oil to a frying pan set to medium high. Next add 1/2 a medium onion, quartered. Then add your sausage.

By this time, your water should be ready for the pasta.

This is a great time to prep your sauce. I love making big batches of sauce and saving them in small containers for easy use. However, you can always use my marinara cheat or a jarred sauce if you’re short on time. If you are making a fresh sauce, reserve about 1/2 cup of tomato juice for later.

Be sure to check on your sausage, as you want the skin to brown evenly.

If you notice that your sausage is browning to quickly, turn down the heat to low and cover to finish the cooking that way. If the sausage is sticking to the pan too much, you might have not used enough oil, or the sausage isn’t ready to turn over yet. Of course, little bits will stick to the pan here and there, creating what could be a terrible to clean up mess. However, we’re going to fix that.

Remember that tomato juice from earlier? Now its time to add it to your pan to deglaze the caramelized bits on the bottom pan. And just like that, all those bits of flavor are suddenly incorporated into your sausage and onion flavors. If you didn’t use a can of tomatoes and don’t have the reserved juice, take about 1/4 cup marinara and add 2 tbsp water and then add that to the sauce. It’s the acidity from the tomatoes that help this to happen.

The smell at this point is almost heavenly, but resist the urge to eat them now! Check your pasta and drain if ready.

Its time to get our last step ready, the spinach. Add 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 minced garlic to a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Then add a heaping mound of baby spinach. I use about 1 big handfuls for each serving of this dish. If you need more than two servings, be sure to adjust the amount of oil, garlic, and butter too. Carefully toss the spinach until just wilted, and then remove from heat. At first, the pan might seem too dry, but it will come together quickly. The big mound of spinach turns into a very small amount, in an even smaller amount of time.

If you or someone eating this dish doesn’t like spinach, substitute with another more favorable vegetable. Asparagus or broccoli might work, but will impact the overall texture, since spinach is soft and incorporates better with the pasta.

Now its time to serve. First, layer the pasta followed by a serving of marinara, and sprinkle with a dash of basil.

Next, add your sautéed spinach. To incorporate the onions and sauce in the sausage pan, drizzle it on the spinach. Then, slice your sausage at an angle, and arrange atop the spinach.

This is a flavorful and filling dish without all the extra fat of a pork sausage, pasta heavy, cheesy Italian meal. Fresh spinach, light pasta, healthy sausage…time to say goodbye to the January diet! Serve this dish with a side of fruit for an even better meal.

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