A special thanks to Andrea who introduced me to this dish and the cookbook it came from! She made this for Ben and me when we went to visit Boston and stayed with them for a night. After a day of traveling it was so nice to be in someone’s home for dinner and to have such a satisfying and delicious meal.
What originally attracted me to the recipe, before I’d even tasted it, was that everything is made in one pan! No boiling pasta separately and adding it to another pan where you’ve made the sauce. You get to do it all together and only have one pan to clean. This makes me very happy (and Ben, too since he’s the one who usually does the dishes after dinner).
This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen Family Recipes, a cookbook I bought on Amazon the same night I had this pasta. I love the Test Kitchen. I think I’ve mentioned this before. The recipes are reliably good and they include tips on ingredients and methods to use in the kitchen. They also give you the whys and hows of cooking and baking. Included in this large ring-bound cookbook are tons of recipes for all kinds of things, appetizers to desserts. Inside the front cover you’ll find some emergency substitutions, and inside the back cover are temps for cooking meat, equivalent measurements and conversions for baking. Inside you’ll not only find recipes but cookware tips and food safety. I often find myself pulling out my phone to remind myself how many tablespoons are in 1/4 cup or what temperature my pork should be, but this book has it easily accessible and I won’t get flour on my phone! Have I sufficiently plugged the cookbook? I should be getting paid for this…
This pasta dish is delicious and comforting, but not heavy. There is some heavy cream and Parmesan which makes the dish just rich enough without making you feel like you’re over indulging. You can use hot, sweet or mild Italian sausage in this dish. The spinach and sun-dried tomatoes are the perfect additions.
To prep ahead you can cut the onion and garlic and store them separately. If you have sun-dried tomato halves you can slice them and store them as well. You can grate the Parmesan unless you bought it already grated. I didn’t try making this completely ahead, but did have some reheated the next day for lunch and it was terrific.
Sausage, Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes with Penne
1 tablespoon olive oil or reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pound Italian turkey sausage
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped or sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, oil drained and reserved
8 ounces penne or ziti
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
Add the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks, until it is no longer pink, 4-5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, then scatter the tomatoes and penne on top of the sausage. Add the broth and the cream then cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes until pasta is al dente.
Add the spinach and cover for 1 minute. Remove the lid and stir together to fully wilt the spinach.
Add in the Parmesan, stir and season with salt and pepper.
The forecast for this past week boasted 3 days in a row of cool and rainy weather. Time to make some soup! I started looking around for a potato soup recipe but most looked so heavy, full of sour cream and cheese. I wanted a soup that would leave us full and satisfied without being totally weighed down. I finally found a terrific recipe from The Pioneer Woman (are you at all surprised?). Instead of cups and cups of whole milk and sour cream, there are cups and cups of chicken broth, with a little dairy to round out the soup and add creaminess. It is heavenly.
I was immediately excited about the celery, onion and carrot in this soup. Made me feel like I was eating even healthier with those extra vegetables. And they add such wonderful flavor. I used shallot instead of onion because I didn’t have one. Next time, though, I will use a regular onion. Less peeling and chopping. Everything else in the recipe is unchanged. I might cook a few extra pieces of bacon because, if you are anything like me, having some of those crunchy bits on top is necessary. The 6 pieces aren’t enough for the entire pot of soup. Maybe this says something about our love of bacon. I’d say 10 pieces would be good, and if you have extra, well, there is not a thing wrong with extra bacon bits.
After cooking the soup you puree about half of it in the blender. This creates a nice balance of smooth and chunky so that every bite has something to chew on, which is what I like in a soup. I used a sharp cheddar on top of the soup, but a sharp white cheddar would also be delicious, or whatever cheese you like on a baked potato.
Top this soup with a little bacon, cheese and green onion and you have all the flavor of a hearty baked potato soup but without the bulk of it. This is definitely a recipe I’ll be making again.
Note: When reheating you might need to add some chicken broth or milk to thin it out since it does thicken as it sits in the fridge.
1 whole medium onion, diced (I used 4 large shallots)
3 carrots, diced (I used about 20 baby carrots)
3 celery stalks, diced
6 whole small russet potatoes (or 3 large) peeled and diced
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream)
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
Balck pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I used Lawry’s)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 cup grated cheese
4 green onions, sliced thin
Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add in the chopped bacon and cook until crispy, being careful not to burn it. Remove from the pot and place on a paper towel-lined plate and wipe out some, but not all, of the bacon fat.
Over medium high heat cook onion, celery and carrots for a couple minutes, until they begin to soften. Add potatoes and cook, stirring things around a little, for about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and seasoning salt.
Add the broth to the pot and bring it to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.
In a bowl whisk flour and milk and add to the pot. Stir together and cook for about 5 minutes.
Puree about half of the soup in a blender (I filled my blender almost full). Be sure to remove the center piece from the top of the blender and cover with a dish towel. If you don’t, you could make a big mess since you’re pureeing hot liquid.
Pour the puree back into the pot, taste and season as needed. Add in the cream or half and half, and the parsley.