Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Penne with Sausage and Veggies

If I lived in California or Florida, I would be so thin. Taller, too. Okay, do you think I don't know that you're snickering? This is my fantasy so I can add height. I blame my failure to diet on the cold weather we've been having. It actually went down to five degrees! Now, I don't mind cold weather. I was even happy to walk the dogs in it. But it makes me want to eat, and I'm not talking about carrot sticks. Warm chocolate pudding, pancakes, and pasta have been dancing through my mind (and across my lips).

The other day, in a particularly lazy moment, I discovered something when I was cooking penne. If I threw frozen spinach and frozen peas in the pot near the end of the cooking time, they all cooked together and played together very nicely. But what kind of sauce could I make for it? Most of the recipes I looked at involved lots of cheese, cream, vodka or wine. Hmm, surely I could lighten that up a little bit without losing the lovely indulgence of a pasta dinner.

This is the result. It won't win any prizes, but it's a healthier way to enjoy pasta, mostly because the proportions are reversed -- there are more veggies than anything else. It's also almost a pantry dinner since everything except the red pepper, onion and garlic is frozen or a staple. Adding spicy sliced pork sausage gave it another touch of indulgence and boosted the flavor. If you're on a kick about a particular herb or spice, by all means add it when the garlic goes into the pan! This makes about four servings. You're on your own for a rich and creamy low calorie chocolate dessert. But if you have such a recipe, would you please share?

Veggie Penne Pasta

8 ounces penne pasta
salt
pepper
8 ounces frozen pork sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion
1 red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
10 ounce package frozen peas
10 ounce package frozen spinach

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add penne.

Meanwhile, heat frozen sausage in a dry pan (no oil).



When the sausage has thawed, remove from pan and set aside. Add a splash of water to deglaze the hot pan. When the water has evaporated, add the two tablespoons of olive oil and the onion. Cook over medium low until the onion is soft.

 


Add the red pepper and minced garlic. Cook over low heat. If the pasta isn't ready yet, set it aside.

 


Cut the sausages into bite-size pieces.



When the pasta is al dente, add the frozen spinach and peas. Give them about 2-3 minutes to heat. The peas should still be a fresh green.



Ladle 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the pasta water into the red pepper pan.



Add the sausage pieces and bring to a simmer for 3-4 minutes.


Pour the penne, peas and spinach into a colander, then into a large bowl. Pour the red pepper and sausage mixture over top of the penne and combine with a large spoon.

Salt and pepper to taste. If you must have cheese, sprinkle Parmesan on top.




17 comments:

  1. This sounds delicious and looks easy. I definitely want to make this.

    Hi Krista!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dru, be sure to use a spice sausage to crank up the flavor a little bit. Hope you like it!

      ~ Krista

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  2. What a smart lady you are! I never would have thought to put frozen veg in with the pasta! Brilliance,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Smart? Only if you spell it L-A-Z-Y. I just looked at that pot and thought, I'm not going to dirty pots for every single thing. But it worked!

      ~ Krista

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  3. Oh, yum, looks great and comforting on a cold winter's night.

    Avery / Daryl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was. Hot and filling. Just what I needed.

      ~ Krista

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  4. Sorry to burst your bubble, but when I moved from the north to south Florida, I gained 10+ pounds (which are still with me 12 years later, I'm sorry to say)! Granted, it was partly because of the stress of moving. But Florida is no guarantee of light weight.
    Nice sounding recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Libby, this is going to sound silly but Cadbury Creme Eggs taste better in Florida. There's something about the flavor when the outer chocolate turns soft - YUM! But I'm sticking to my theory. (Hey, I have to blame something -- it can't just be my fault!)

      ~ Krista

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  5. This looks delicious. Just a note--your pasta shouldn't have to wait for the sauce. There's an old Italian saying -- "The sauce waits for the pasta, the pasta doesn't wait for the sauce!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those clever Italians! The timing was very close. Really. ; )

      ~ Krista

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  6. Toni N This looks like a great winter's night food. Super easy too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Toni! It was warm comfort food on a verrrry cold night. Without all the guilt of cheese and butter!

      ~ Krista

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  7. Yes I absolutely must have cheese:). And I was just going to say I'm sure the cold weather is related to weight gain, but Libby shot that theory down. I know I walk and bike a lot more in a Key West winter than one in New England though!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lately, I've been stomping through snow. That must burn calories, Right? And shoveling and pouring kitty litter on the street. Gee, walking and biking sound so nice!

    ~ Krista

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  9. Winter has been seeming verrrry long here (frostbite warning tonight) and so I think this will do exactly what you want it to, Krista. Cheer us up without packing on another pound. I like the way you've lightened it up and all the veggies. Very pretty with all the colors too! Thanks!

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  10. WOW! That looks REALLY good!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Mary Jane, the veggies lightened it up a lot. Indulgent but not really bad for us.

    Helena, I saw almost the exact same thing in a box in the frozen section at my grocery store yesterday. Imagine that!

    ~ Krista

    ReplyDelete

 

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