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
8 ounces frozen pork sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
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.