I love pasta dishes and I especially love it when I can incorporate enough vegetables to feel like I don’t need to cook an extra vegetable side dish. In this recipe I add an entire (small) bunch of kale and mushrooms (I know, these are technically not veggies) and I feel like that’s the perfect healthy balance to the sausage, pasta, and other ingredients. I ended up just making this a one dish meal. I didn’t serve any other sides and everyone was full after a serving or two.
I used a chicken basil sausage from Sprouts but you could definitely use any type of sausage. I think sweet Italian sausage would be delicious, but I wanted to go with something a little lower in fat and calories. I also used half and half instead of cream, mainly because my husband uses half and half in his coffee so I already had some in the fridge. This recipe uses pesto as well; you can use store bought or homemade. When it comes to the Parmesan cheese you will definitely want to use freshly grated Parmesan. I promise you, it’s so much better than the pre-shredded stuff!
Kid friendly suggestions: Cut the kale very small. I spend a lot of time cutting the kale so that there are no large leaves. Even with the kale cut finely my 7 year old still picked some of his out. I really was okay with that because he did eat quite a bit of it. Or just use 1/2 the suggested amount of kale if greens are something that will turn your family away. You can also cut the mushrooms really small so that they blend in with the rest of the dish. I actually did the opposite and cut them big because my husband is not a fan of mushrooms. This way he could easily pick them out and give them to me. I love mushrooms and was happy to take them!
- 16 oz pasta (I used whole wheat bowtie pasta)
- 2 - 6 tsp olive oil, depending on how much fat is in your sausage
- 2 links sausage (about ¾ a pound), casings removed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 small bunch kale, finely chopped (about 6-8 cups)
- ½ cup pesto
- ¼ cup half and half or cream
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. You will want to save ½ cup of the pasta water for later.
- While the pasta is cooking, add 2 tsp of oil to a large pan and cook the sausage over medium - medium high heat.
- Once cooked remove sausage to a paper towel lined plate. Add in a few more teaspoons of olive oil here if you used a low-fat sausage that didn't render much fat. I had to do this because I used chicken sausage.
- In the same pan sauté the garlic for one minute, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and sauté for two minutes. Add in the chopped kale and sauté another 4-5 minutes.
- Add the sausage back to the pan and mix. Cook for another minute or two. Add in the pesto, ½ and ½, and the reserved ½ cup of pasta water. Mix well.
- Add in the Parmesan cheese and cooked pasta. Stir and cook over medium - medium low heat for several minutes until warmed through.
- Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.
If you make this dish, let me know what you think. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine did.