I have this silly mentality that as long a dish has dark leafy greens, it is somewhat healthy. Peas, carrots, celery… those don’t fool me, but add kale, spinach, or broccoli to the mix and I’ll think that it’s nutritious. So if you follow my train of thought, you can understand why I would proclaim that this pasta is nutritious and healthy.
It’s really not though, I should know. It’s rich without feeling heavy and gloriously creamy without being greasy. In fact, it tastes so decadent that people were surprised I only used 4 tablespoons of butter for an entire pound of pasta.
It starts with a pound of good Italian sausage, and when the sausage is cooked and the delicious brown bits are formed, you add your veggies.
Then you start your béchamel sauce which is the key to having a pasta taste so creamy and finally, you add your freshly grated cheddar. No, not the shredded bagged stuff, the seriously sharp, good stuff you get by the block. The dish comes together relatively quickly and the sauce requires only one pot. Oh, and the flavor? Explosive! ;)
Sausage and Spinach Pasta
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 lb. dried pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
½ lb. baby spinach
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
⅓ c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ c. whole milk
1 ½ c. chicken stock
6 oz. aged white cheddar, grated
salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil while you prepare the sauce.
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot cook the Italian sausage until cooked through and brown bits have formed on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the onion and cook until softened, then add the spinach, garlic and red pepper flakes until the spinach wilts and releases liquid. Continuously scrape the bottom of the pot to remove the brown bits.
- Add the butter and once it melts, stir in the flour and cook until the mixture becomes pasty and smells slightly nutty.
- Slowly add in the chicken stock while stirring the mixture to avoid any lumps.
- Then, slowly add in the whole milk while stirring the mixture to avoid any lumps.
- Add the grated cheddar in small increments until completely incorporated.
- Simmer sauce while boil the pasta.
- Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add salt and pepper to the sauce to taste.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and stir until sauce is evenly distributed throughout the pasta.