It may only be the first week of August, but summer is officially over at the Carlisle house. My girls went back to school yesterday! Part of me is having a really hard time believing that summer vacation is already over. It sped by with lightning speed this year because we were busier than we’ve ever been during the summer months. We had a lot of fun together, but another part of me was quite ready to get the girls on the bus yesterday morning. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean. I love them more than life itself, but when it’s time, it’s time.
For the record, they were ready too.
I wanted to make sure that the girls had a good, hearty, healthy dinner the night before they started the new school year. When I ran across this pasta dish, in this month’s issue of Family Circle magazine, I knew that it was the perfect way to say goodbye to summer. It sounded light and summery, but healthy AND kid-friendly. I didn’t want our last summer dinner together to be a fight at the table. It looked like this meal could please even my pickiest eater. (“Please” meaning “she could easily pick out the perfectly delicious stuff she didn’t want without turning into a drama queen”.)
I started by prepping my veggies. I washed and cut up a head of broccoli, some slender baby green beans, some fresh basil, grape tomatoes and garlic.
As I was getting the veggies ready, I brought a big pot of water to a boil on the stove. When it was bubbling all over, I tossed in my broccoli and green beans, just for a few minutes, and then removed them when they were tender, but still crisp. I set them aside, and then added my whole grain pasta to the same pot.
The pasta needed to cook for about 12 minutes, so that gave me enough time to saute up my chicken sausage. Chicken sausage is a wonderful alternative to traditional pork sausage. It tastes great, and has 70% less fat! No complaints there! For this recipe, I used Italian-style chicken sausage.
I had sliced the sausage up into thin coins, so they browned up quickly on the stove. Once they were golden, I removed the sausage from the pan, added a little bit of olive oil, and got to sautéing my veggies.
Into the pan went the garlic, blanched broccoli and green beans. I stirred them around the pan for a couple of minutes, and before the garlic burned, I added the sausage back into the pan along with some chicken broth, oregano, the halved tomatoes, salt and pepper.
That mixture needed to simmer for two minutes, which left me just enough time to drain my pasta. Before I emptied it into the colander, though, I scooped out a cup of the hot pasta water.
When the pasta was drained, I tossed it in with all of the beautiful veggies and sausage. The pasta soaked up most of the broth quickly, which is why I kept the pasta water on hand. I didn’t need to add much, maybe 1/4 cup, but I added a little to make the dish a little saucier.
When we sat down to dinner that night, everyone was happy. The pasta was so flavorful and delicious, and the veggies were still summery and crisp. My husband raved about it, and my girls enjoyed it too! I think we all went back for seconds.
Mission Accomplished! Here’s to a great new school year!
ROTINI WITH SAUTEED CHICKEN SAUSAGE AND VEGETABLES
Adapted from Family Circle
- ½ lb. green beans, trimmed
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- 13 oz. whole grain rotini pasta
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 sweet Italian-style, fully cooked, chicken sausages (I used Al Fresco brand.) cut into ¼ inch coins
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. salt
- ⅛ tsp. pepper
- ¼ cup fresh basil, sliced
- 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. Add the green beans and broccoli. Cook, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
- Add the pasta to the same pot and cook according to the package, 11-15 minutes. Reserve a cup of the cooking liquid and drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, heat up 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning as necessary, until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the sausage to a plate and set aside.
- To the same skillet, add the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil, green beans, garlic, and broccoli. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the sausage, broth, oregano, tomatoes, salt, and pepper and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Toss the pasta with the sausage and vegetables, adding reserved pasta water as necessary to make a sauce. Stir in the basil and top with Parmesan before serving.