Like last time, I substituted chicken sausage in for the ham. I love me some chicken sausage!
And this recipe is dairy free, which also make me a very happy woman. Cheese... I have quite the love/hate relationship with it. My taste buds love it, my stomach hates it. So whenever I can make a good recipe without cheese or any other dairy product I get excited.
However, this time didn't out as good as last time. I don't know what happened, but it just wasn't very flavorful. I was able to fix it by adding a little more lemon juice and some salt. Maybe that was my problem to begin with, the lemon I was using was a little dry. So, this time it didn't get the best of marks (7 and 8), but if memory can be trusted (along with that blog post I put up at the time), it was a pretty solid 9/9.5 last time. That just means I need to make it again and make sure I have a fresher lemon this time!
My changes are in italics.
- 1 pound penne rigate pasta
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Half a pack of chicken sausage, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 2 cups white mushrooms (about 5 ounces), thinly sliced
- One 6-ounce bag baby spinach
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup walnut pieces (about 4 ounces), toasted
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
- Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and pepper
COST = $8.15 PER SERVING (3) = $2.72
- In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Push the sausage to the side, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
- Using a small food processor, mince the garlic. Add the walnuts, parsley and lemon peel and process until finely chopped. With the machine on, add the lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Process to form a paste.
- Add the walnut pesto and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pasta; toss to coat thoroughly. Stir in the sausage mixture, adding more pasta water if needed; season with salt and pepper.