Tag Archives: penne

Italian Sausage Pasta with Spinach


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My Italian Sausage Pasta with spinach.

So a number of months ago, my kids asked of me the unthinkable – again: “Papa, can you make something different?”

Jiminy Crickets.  How can 12 and 13 year old kids want something different, especially when one likes cheese only pizza and the other only pepperoni?  Trying to make something BOTH will like?  Why couldn’t they be satisfied with my culinary masterpieces (LOL) like:

  • Fettucine Alfredo with Prosciutto
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Spaghetti al Limone
  • Gyoza (potstickers)
  • Ma-bo Dofu (Szechuan Tofu)
  • Ham with Homemade Honey Glaze and Scalloped Potatoes
  • Enchiladas
  • CPK’s Pesto Creme Penne Pasta
  • Croquettes (コロッケ)
  • Chicken Katsu
  • Beef Teriyaki with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
  • Spaghetti and Homemade Meatballs
  • Wilted Spinach Salad
  • Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Chive Pan Sauce
  • Burritos
  • Etc?

Let’s not even address breakfast, like my buttermilk pancakes or waffles from scratch even on school days.  Well, I didn’t milk the cow nor grew the wheat that makes the (King Arthur) flour.  I need to be honest about that.

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So I went to my trusted source.  No, not Cook’s Illustrated.  This time, my oldest daughter Robyn, who’s become quite an accomplished cook herself (She got that from me.).

a prime rib
My oldest daughter’s prime rib. Yum!

I forgot from which site the recipe came from, but as soon as I said to my kids, “Robyn has a new recipe for pasta,” they said OK!

That’s the magic word, you know.  “Robyn”.  It’s never my saying I’ll make something new.

But this recipe (with a couple of modifications) is ideal for a dutch oven… and it’s easy!

  • 3/4 pound pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Swanson chicken broth
  • Fresh basil chiffonade (to your liking but I use about two stalks of fresh leaves)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bag fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Cooking:

  1. Heat a skillet (or Dutch oven)
  2. Add olive oil
  3. Brown onion until transparent
  4. Add Italian sausage.  Crumble and cook until pink is almost gone
  5. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds
  6. Add broth, basil and tomatoes with liquid
  7. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes to slightly reduce. Add chopped spinach and fresh basil
  8. Cover skillet and simmer on reduced heat until spinach is tender.

In meantime, aggressively boil your pasta (I like to use Penne or Ziti) until al dente.  Drain.

Add pasta to skillet and mix together. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.

Done!

And you know what?  The kids liked it…because it was Robyn’s recipe.

CPK’s Pesto Creme Penne Pasta


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Waited too long to take a picture – the kids were hungry.

For many months now, my two littlest ones have been asking me “to make” California Pizza Kitchen’s (CPK) Pesto Creme Penne Pasta.

Although I’ve seen my Little Cake Boss eat it a couple of times, I never really looked at it; besides, the dimly lit interior rivals that of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.  So the first time I made it, it was not what they expected; it was just plain ol’ pesto…but they ate it.  They always eat what I make…when they like it.

For my Little Cake Boss’ 12th birthday earlier this month, I took her friends to CPK.  This time, I looked at it real good and had a sample.  Well, let me tell you – “Pesto” should not have been the first word in this dish’s culinary description. 🙂

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The redness fades quickly… but why the city requires mulch for cactus and succulents is beyond reason. My back and knees wondered why, too.

Red Spike Succulent

Well, in between the birthday and the pasta, there was:

  1. Changing out my green lawn to a drought-tolerant yard (above),
  2. Trying to write a novel while investigating new facts about my Uncle Suetaro’s death in the Philippines in 1945,
  3. A paranoid aunt freaking out (big time) about a new cell phone she asked for,
  4. Big Bear Lake, and,
  5. A really messed up oil change at Walmart (which they promptly took care of),

but I dared to try this dish again.

I did start out with my pesto but for this attempt, I just cut down the amounts and used my Cuisinart Mini Coffee Grinder to process it.

The base was a variant of my Alfredo sauce:

  • Some olive oil
  • One garlic clove, pressed
  • Maybe a 1/4 to a 1/3 stick butter
  • About 2/3rds cup heavy cream

And

  • Maybe two BIG tablespoons of the pesto
  • Maybe a third to a half cup (?) of sun dried tomatoes
  • Half cup of shredded Parmesan Reggiano
  • Salt, pepper
  • Penne, al dente

Heated small sauce pan, dribbled in some olive oil then quickly warmed through the pressed garlic.  After maybe ten seconds (don’t want to burn the garlic), tossed in the butter until it melted, then added the cream.  Brought it up to good simmer (don’t boil), stirring often.  Lowered heat and continued on low simmer for ten minutes, stirring frequently.

Threw in the sun dried tomatoes and after a couple of minutes, added the pesto, Parmesan cheese, salt/pepper to taste, then poured it over the penne in a stainless steel bowl.  Mixed it up then sprinkled the plated pasta with more Parmesan.

Did the kids eat it?

Yes.

Did they think it was like CPK’s?

Nope.  They thought it was better.

Well, actually, as their provider of food, shelter and flu shots, I encouraged them to think that.