Today was the best kind of busy day: one filled with joyful family events. But when we finally arrived home in the evening and I heard the reoccurring five'o'clock question, "What's for dinner?", I had no answer. Oddly enough, this always excites me.
I enjoy the thrill (I guess I'm easily entertained) of throwing left over odds and ends together in an attempt to make a meal look like it was premeditated.
Today, I started with the asparagus that was trimmed and ready to be steamed. Then I realized we had chicken sausage that I needed to use. For the meals' starch, the go-to answer: pasta. There were left over kalamata olives from this recipe, and left over pinenuts from that recipe... and the rest just sort of happened. It's a simple dish, really, so throw it together anyway you want.
Pasta with chicken sausage, spinach, and asparagus
serves about 7 or 8
2 tsp olive oil
2 large chicken sausages
1/2 lb (or 8 oz, or a large handful) whole wheat spaghetti noddles
1 large piece shallot, minced (about 2 tbsp minced)
3 large handfuls spinach (about 3 cups)
1/2 lb asparagus, washed, trimmed, and steamed but still firm,* and then cut into about 1" pieces
salt and pepper
juice of 1 really large (or 2 small) lemon
1 cup pecorino romano cheese,** grated
1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add chicken sausages to pan. Cook the sausages a few minutes, turning them to brown the outside of the sausages. Remove them from the pan (but do not wipe pan) and slice into about 1/2" pieces. Return to pan with the shallots. Turn sausages every few minutes in order to brown both sides.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until al dente.
When pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce pan with the sausages and shallots. Add spinach also and toss, scraping the bottom of the pan to allow noodles to soak up oil. The noodles should begin to brown slightly from the oil, and the spinach should begin to wilt from the heat of the noodles. Add asparagus. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper, and squeeze lemons over the pasta. Toss to coat.
Each serving of pasta dish should be sprinkled with about 2 tbsp cheese and 1 tbsp each pinenuts and kalamata olives. Enjoy.
*if you do not already have a method for steaming asparagus, here is an easy one: place trimmed, washed asparagus into a microwave safe dish in one layer. Add about 3 tbsp of water. Microwave about 3 minutes, or until cooked but still firm (you don't want mush!)
**this is a really salty, delicious sheep's milk cheese; it can be substituted for parmesan or asiago