Quick Dinner: Pasta with Smoked Sausage & Spinach

I cannot even tell you the number of times I fell back on this recipe during track season last spring.  Have you ever been to a track meet?  They’re kind of like swim meets except on dry land.  There are approximately 12,000 events.  And your own offspring is likely to compete in oh, let’s say … two.  It’s awesome when this child becomes adept at narrowing down the window of time in which she will be competing, because then you’re able to plan your arrival to the asphalt venue accordingly.  Not that it’s not 100% awesome to watch other people’s children run like they stole something.  Because it is.  For real.

What I’m getting at is that sometimes dinner ran late for the DamFam on track meet days.  Quick and easy was the name of the game, and that’s exactly what this rustic little recipe is.  Would I serve it to dinner guests?  Probably not.  But no one here complained when I dished it up at least six times throughout an eight week period last spring.   And from the starter pistol to the finish line, I’ll bet you have this on the table in 30 minutes or less.  : )

SERVES:  4, generously
SOURCE:  adapted from thekitchn.com; recipe by Faith Durand

1 pound dried pasta (I like bowties)
3/4 lb. smoked sausage (Sendik’s Beef Smoked Sausage or Smoked Polish Kielbasa are on sale)
olive oil
4 c. fresh baby spinach
1/2 c. (or more) chicken broth (Swanson Broth is on sale)
1/2 c. pine nuts, lightly toasted, plus a few extra for garnish if desired
1 c. shredded Parmesan, additional for garnish (Sendik’s Parmesan is on sale)

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling and cook the pasta according to package directions.  When tender, drain and reserve 1/2 – 1 cup of the pasta water.  Return the pasta to the pot and set aside.

Meanwhile, slice the sausage on the diagonal into 1/2″ slices.  Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil.  When hot, add the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.  Scoot the sausage over to the side and add the spinach.  Pour the chicken broth in and cover the pan; cook for about three minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, tender, and bright green.

Mix the spinach and sausage, pine nuts, Parmesan, and reserved pasta water into the cooked pasta.  Toss to combine.  Serve in shallow pasta bowls and garnish with a few extra toasted pine nuts and additional grated Parmesan if desired.  Don’t forget to have some good quality, warm bread on the side (Sendik’s Italian Bread is on sale this week).

NOTE:  I’ve used all different kinds of smoked sausage – Andouille, chicken and roasted pepper, sundried tomato.  It’s all good.  Experiment and use your favorite, you really can’t mess it up.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | November 5th, 2013