Yay for the first pasta post on the blog! I really can’t believe I’m on post number 5 and I’m just now getting around to talking about pasta. We eat a fair amount of pasta in our house (and carbs in general), particularly in the winter. There are few things that I find as comforting as a big bowl of steaming hot pasta, covered in a delicious sauce and topped with a sprinkling of freshly grated cheese.
One of my favorite sauce varieties is pesto, although it’s a sauce that I’ve shied away from making at home in the past. Part of my pesto-avoidance was brought on by how difficult I always thought it was to make. Additionally, many pesto recipes can be higher in fat than I would prefer for a weeknight recipe to be. Well, I finally set out on a journey a few weeks back to make my own light version at home and I am so, so glad that I did.
This version of pesto is packed with spinach and flavor, while remaining light on oil and pine nuts, and is super easy to throw together! Simply add the ingredients to a food processor (I used my mini food processor for this – less to clean), pulse to combine, and taste and adjust ingredient levels as you see fit. Each serving of pesto comes in at right around 60 calories, which makes the splurge of pork sausage more acceptable in my book.
You can totally use chicken sausage if you’d rather. I simply went with Italian pork sausage because that’s what was available at Lucky’s Market the day I stopped by (love all of their sausage varieties!). Hope that you all have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be sharing a delicious comfort food recipe Sunday morning, so be sure to check back for that!
- Kosher Salt
- 10 ounces pasta (I used campanelle)
- 4 cups spinach, divided
- 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts (could also use chopped almonds or walnuts)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 2 sweet Italian pork sausage links (about 3 ounces each), casings removed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Freshly ground pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain.
- See notes concerning pesto. Meanwhile, pulse 2 cups spinach, 1 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon each olive oil and pine nuts, lemon juice (start off adding about half of the juice, gradually adding more as you see fit), ½ teaspoon salt, and the red pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth. Scrape down the sides; add the parmesan and pulse until smooth. Set the pesto aside.
- Form the sausage into nickel-size patties, about ½ inch thick. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Flip, add the garlic to the skillet and cook until the patties are just cooked through, about 2 more minutes.
- Add the pasta, pesto, and ¼ cup reserved cooking water to the skillet. Toss to coat, adding more cooking water as needed; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining 2 cups spinach.
- Top with parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon nuts; drizzle with olive oil.
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine January/February 2015