Ok, I must admit that I was loving the fact that we sprung our clocks foreword yesterday because it was so nice to have it light out till 7:45 last night, but I am not liking it this morning. I am not a happy camper, in fact, I am a tired camper. It’s 6:00, but it feels like 4:00 in the morning because it is so dark out. I am in need of some caffeine, big time! My coffee maker seems like it’s running in slow motion this morning. Wait, just I just hear the final gurgle of the brew cycle, yes, I did! I’m off to pour myself a cup, back in a minute or two. Ahhh, just took a sip (gulp) of coffee and I am ready to go.
Here is another easy-peasy one-bowl pasta dish that is kid & daddy approved! Who doesn’t like that? This was showcased on Oprah’s site as a super foods meal. I think it was showcased as a super foods meal due to the walnut pesto and broccolini. I don’t think the sausage was contributing factor to that title, but that’s ok, because the sausage was the contributing factor to my kids rating this dish a 10. Hey, you gotta throw something kid friendly in a dish that has walnuts in it, at least in my house.
This pasta is similar to my broccolini, sausage and orecchiette pasta but a bit different with the walnut pesto serving as the base sauce. I loved the addition of the walnut pesto and the toasted chopped walnuts. The pesto clings to the pasta and the chopped walnuts add a healthy & nutty crunch to the dish!
The walnut pesto can be made ahead of time. I made mine earlier in the day so when it was time to cook up dinner, I had one step completed. I also made another batch to store in the freezer for another last minute dinner idea. This pesto freezes well because there is no added cheese. You really don’t miss the cheese in this pesto either. To freeze the pesto, just brush small glass container with some olive oil, pour the pesto in, seal it up and throw it in your freezer.
walnut pesto pasta with sausage & broccolini:
Recipe adapted from Oprah (come on, I don’t need to give you her last name)
serves 4 to 6
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound rigatoni or your favorite pasta- you can also use a whole-wheat or whole grain pasta to boost up the nutritional value.
- 4 sweet italian sausages (about 1 pound), casings removed
- 1 bunch or two broccolini, tough ends trimmed and coarsely chopped
- shredded pecorino romano cheese
First things first, prep your ingredients for the pesto. Toast up your walnuts, wash and dry your basil, peel your garlic clove and pour your 1/2 cup of olive oil.My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan. Some people like to toast them in the oven but the frying pan seems to work better for me. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool.
Let’s begin by making thepesto.
Combine 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 2 cups basil, garlic clove, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process and, while motor is running, drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil to form pesto; set aside. Note: If you don’t have a large food processor, like me, and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away. Chop the rest of the walnuts, and set aside. You will use these to top the pasta.
Bring a medium pot of well-salted water (you want it to taste like salt water) to a boil. Cook broccolini until just tender, 1-2 minutes, depending on the size of your broccolini.
Note: Timing can vary depending on the size of your vegetable. There is only one sure way to tell if your vegetable is done: put it in you mouth and eat it.Transfer broccolini to a bowl of ice water with a slotted spoon or mesh one like I have. Drain the broccolini and set aside. Let the water return to a boil (the same water you used for the broccolini). Add the rigatoni and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta and return to the pan.
Meanwhile, while pasta is cooking, heat 1-2 tablespoons (Oprah’s recipe said 2 tablespoons but I used 1 tablespoon) olive oil in a large skillet. When oil is hot, add sausage and cook, breaking up meat, until brown, about 5 minutes. When sausage is cooked, add the broccolini and stir to coat. Turn off the heat.Dish the pesto pasta up into individual bowls and top each sausage, broccolini, chopped walnuts and some shredded pecorino romano cheese.This pasta tastes great leftover as all of the flavor combinations have had a change to mingle. My kids were not complaining when I served this up again the next night.
Let’s give a cheer to Oprah for inspiring me on this dish!