Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Week of New Recipes -- Day 5: Spinach & Mushroom Pasta with Walnut Pesto

I have actually made this recipe before, nothing "new" here.  I had snatched it up as a recipe I wanted to try before I decided to do the weekly meal plan.  But I liked it last time, so I wasn't too disappointed to see it on the menu again.

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
COST = $8.15       PER SERVING (3) = $2.72


  1. Great roundup. After looking at your photos, I'm hungry.

  2. Walnut Pesto sounds great. I love to add some nuts to my meals.

  3. Girls, go ahead and make it, you will not be disappointed!

    Rachel, I have one that I need to put up soon (hopefully today) that you can easily make in Brazil and it is SO GOOD. Amazing good. Look for the rosted veggies and salmon post :)

  4. NICE NICE NICE> every thing about this recipe is looking delicious and healthy.

  5. I made a cashew pesto the other night for dinner... it rocked my world! Thanks for sharing your walnut pesto!!!!

  6. Hi Tiffany! This is absolutely delish. Really love the recipe and your photos. Certainly can't wait to try it out. It contains my fav veg, baby spinach leaves and mushrooms and PESTO.. .yummmmmm Btw, will you be attending this year's Foodbuzz Festival? I'm still waiting for my invite. Wondering why is it not in my inbox yet. Gosh.. Happy Cooking! Cheers, Jo


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