Spinach Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Total Time:
30 min
15 min
15 min

4 servings

  • Kosher salt
  • 10 ounces mezzi rigatoni
  • 4 cups baby spinach (about 3 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, chopped almonds or walnuts
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 sweet Italian chicken sausage links (3 ounces each), casings removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain.

  • Meanwhile, pulse 2 cups spinach, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon each olive oil and nuts, the lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth. Scrape down the sides; add the parmesan and pulse until smooth. Set the pesto aside.

  • Form the sausage into nickel-size patties, about 1/2 inch thick. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Flip, add the garlic to the skillet and cook until the patties are just cooked through, about 2 more minutes.

  • Add the pasta, pesto and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water to the skillet. Toss to coat, adding more cooking water as needed; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining 2 cups spinach. Top with parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon nuts; drizzle with olive oil.

  • Photograph by Charles Masters

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