I’m a lucky girl. Q loves to cook. And he’s good at it. He even worked at a restaurant for 3 months before leaving for Georgia. We’ve been eating out a lot recently (we have to get in all of Q’s favorites before he leaves) and we really wanted to eat healthy and cook for ourselves Wednesday night.
I found inspiration for this recipe from a Real Simple recipe I found through Pinterest, but Q and I wanted to do our own take on it. We used quinoa pasta shells instead of orecchiette and cooked asparagus instead of green peas, which aren’t my favorite. While the quinoa pasta tasted the same as regular pasta, we would recommend using a bigger noodle with this dish. The shells were too small and we got frustrated trying to scoop all the shells onto our forks.
I like this dish because it is easy to manipulate to your liking. You can use whatever type of sausage you like as well as whatever leftover veggies you may have in the fridge. Although we ate this as a side dish, it is definitely filling enough for a main course.
Quinoa Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage
This recipe can be made with any type of pasta you wish, we recommend a larger size pasta (penne, wagon wheels, rigatoni) so you can get a full fork full of pasta, sausage and veggies.
- 12 ounces pasta (we used quinoa pasta shells, but any shape or type will do)
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
- 8 ounces or 2 uncooked large Italian-style chicken sausage links
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. (Ours took about 20 minutes, so we did it while cooking our veggies).
- Asparagus: Bend each spear of asparagus until it breaks (usually this will be the bottom inch or inch and a half of the spear) and throw away the woody stems that broke off. (We throw the bottom part of the asparagus away because these woody stems lack moisture and not as fresh as the top of the asparagus.).
- Line a baking sheet with a large piece of aluminum foil. Place asparagus in a line on top of the foil. Pour 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil over the top of the asparagus, making sure they are lightly coated. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top and roll asparagus so each spear is evenly coated. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping asparagus over halfway through. Set aside.
- Green Beans: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Plunge the green beans into the boiling water until they are about 90% cooked (around 3-5 minutes). Immediately drain the green beans in a colander and plunge them into ice cold water to bring the temperature down. Let sit for 3-5 minutes. Drain/dry the beans well. Cut the cooled green bean into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
- Sausage: Thinly slice the sausage and set aside. (Make sure to use a sharp knife, as the casings will stick a little.). In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high. Once oil glistens, add your sausage slices. Cook on high until heated through (around 4-6 minutes) and brown on all sides. Remove sausage from pan and place on a plate with a paper towel on top.
- Place the saute pan back on the stove, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and reheat pan on medium-low. Add the asparagus and green beans into the pan for 2-3 minutes. (We use the fond from the sausage to add flavor to the veggies. The fond is the good bits left over at the bottom of the pan from cooking, they add great flavor to the veggies). Add the sausage back into the pan with the veggies. Add in pasta and pesto sauce and mix to coat. Continue to add pesto until all the pasta is lightly coated (we used a little more than 1/3 cup).
- Portion pasta into bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Adapted from Real Simple