I spend a good bit of time looking at and reading about food, so it’s rare that I see a recipe and immediately think “I need to make this right this second.” When I find a recipe that gives me that feeling, well, I almost always give in. The day I saw a picture of this pasta on Pinterest, I decided it needed to go on the menu for that night. I don’t know what in the picture called to me, but I knew I had to make it right away.
This pasta isn’t remarkable or life changing, but it is darn good food. And you know what? That’s good enough for me. If it weren’t laden with cream and, you know, pasta, I would gladly eat it twice a week. This recipe is perfect for those nights that we don’t want to cook an involved meal but still want to eat something delicious (and not get takeout). I made a few changes to the original recipe – added an onion, used chicken sausage instead of ground chicken, added red pepper flakes, doubled the tomatoes, swapped fresh basil for the dried oregano – and now I’ve found my ultimate weeknight pasta dish. I think using chicken sausage instead of ground chicken is what really made this recipe shine. Since sausage already has so many seasonings in it, it can only enhance the flavor of final product. Just make sure you get something that would go well with the other ingredients. We’ve used sun-dried tomato and basil sausage and roasted red pepper and garlic sausage the times we’ve made this. We seriously can’t get enough of this pasta. Clara absolutely loves it, too, and we love watching her eat it (that may sound weird, but she’s so adorable
all the time when she’s eating). This recipe makes a lot, way more than our little family of three needs, but the leftovers reheat exceptionally well and it’s easily halved if you’d rather go that route.
- COOK TIME:
- YIELD: about 6 servings
1 pound pasta (penne or farfalle)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
1½ cups half and half
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1 8-ounce bag (about 2 cups packed) baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus more for serving
Cook pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water, and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and tomato paste and continue cooking for an additional minute. Add the chicken sausage, using a wooden spoon to break up the pieces. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the sausage is completely cooked through.
Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the half and half and Parmesan. Simmer lightly, stirring frequently, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Add the spinach, tomatoes and basil and stir to combine, using the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce as needed. Top with extra Parmesan and basil, if desired, and serve.