Coming home after work and making dinner has become a fun adventure since I started this healthier eating (read Weight
Watchers) lifestyle. Rather than coming home and “winging it,” randomly pulling out a variety of ingredients and throwing together dinner, I’m actually planning.
For those of you that have been FRANtasticFood readers or Justin.tv viewers here and here these past 4 years, you’ll be familiar with my disregard for meal planning and while that was great, and fun and decadent, it wasn’t so smart or healthy. Oh sure, it all tasted darn good, but I never really felt “darn good” in the morning. The quick dishes I put together were laden with fat and calories and the amount of carbs I was downing would have made King Arthur and his team of sales people very happy. Now that I want to be sure that I optimize my meals for satisfaction and flavor, planning is something I welcome.
So this day, I pulled a couple of links of Chicken Sausage out of the freezer, put them in the fridge and and thought about how I’d use them while relaxing during the commute to work in the pre-dawn darkness. I could grill them and serve them with creamy polenta, but my allotment of polenta would be meager. I could panfry them and serve them with miso mashed potatoes, but it’s become a staple and I wanted something a bit different. I could put them in a pan and turn them into a pasta with sausage, tomatoes, spinach and cheese dish. Voila! A dinner plan is born.
I was inspired by Mark Bittman’s Chick Peas with Chorizo and Spinach dish. I’m a Bittman fan and caught his new show on my favorite cooking channel, aptly names — The Cooking Channel — on the Weekend. He made an Andalusian Chickpea dish with spinach.
I decided to take the idea and make this dish instead, but with the leftover spinach I headed back into the kitchen tonight and stayed a little closer to the original, although I put my own twist on it. I’ll post it at FRANtasticfood in a few days. Scroll down for a sneak peek preview.
This is one of “those” recipes. A recipe that’s quick, easy and delicious. A recipe that you can whip up for a satisfying dinner on a night when you walk in the door exhausted and say, “I just don’t want to do anything but take my coat off and put my feet up.”
Not only will you be able to put your feet up after a quick 20 minutes in the kitchen, but you’ll be sitting down, feet propped — or not — to a flavorful and savory pasta dish that will only cost you 317 calories or, if you’re counting, 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus.
Do you need to serve anything with this dish? No, but if you want something more, a salad or grilled or steamed vegetable would be a good addition.
Do you plan your meals, or a you a “just wing it” type cook?
|Pasta with Sausage and Al Fresco Tomato Sauce||
- 8 ounces Barilla Gemelli Pasta or other small, thick pasta
- 4 links fresh Chicken Sausage, sliced
- 3 cups Fresh Baby Spinach, washed
- 1.5 cups Cherry Tomatoes, washed
- 2 ounces Italian Truffle Cheese or other melting cheese, grated
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. When the water has come to a full rolling boil, add the pasta. I don’t add salt to my water. I am of the school of thought that the sauce should flavor the pasta and that the pasta in its most natural state should taste like, well… pasta, without salt hiding its flavor.
- Heat a 10″ nonstick skillet and add the sausage slices, cooking to brown on all sides.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until they become “weepy” or soft and wrinkled. They do not need to be cooked through. This should take about 5 – 10 minutes. This is an Al Fresco style sauce, so you’ll want a few of them in an almost uncooked state.
- The tomatoes will continue to soften and a sauce will be created imparting the flavors of the sausage. When all of the sausage pieces are brown add the cheese and stir to combine.
- Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
- Drain the pasta, saving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and reserved water to the skillet and stir to combine for another minute to cook off most of the pasta water.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl for serving.
This is a hearty main course that goes well with a salad. If you want to bulk up the dish, add mushrooms when cooking the sausage.