A hearty weeknight pasta dish that is the ultimate healthy-ish comfort food. Ready in 30 minutes!
Pasta happens at least once a week in my house, if it were up to Jordan we would eat it daily. Typically, he is the pasta maker, but if I want vegetables to appear anywhere near the pasta it's my job to step in and take over.
Jordan and I have talked about creating a series of his pasta recipes on here, this still may happen, but for the moment you have me… the veggie pasta cooker. I am, after all, the one in this relationship with true Italian blood coursing through my veins, so rest assured my pasta dishes are delish!
When I am making pasta, I don't tell Jordan. I just appear with a dish. Like a little pasta fairy. On this spicy sausage and broccoli pasta occasion, I appeared with a dish and then he went back for seconds and then thirds and then fourths.
Who could pass up spicy tender sausage, charred roasted broccoli, nutty parmesan cheese, and fiery yet fruity Aleppo pepper? No one. No one could or should pass this dish up.
Let's Get Cooking!
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:
- Spicy Ground Italian Sausage – Start with really good quality sausage. I used Porter Road Italian Sausage which is loaded with spices and excellent flavor. You can certainly substitute chicken sausage.
- Broccoli – The broccoli is roasted in this recipe for ultimate flavor
- Baby Spinach – You can sub any green veggie you like, but spinach works quite well wilts down in no time, and has a mild creamy texture
- Pasta – Shape is EVERYTHING! I prefer a tight wound fusilli in this recipe but orecchiette, cavatelli, farfalle, or Gemelli would also work.
- Olive Oil – Extra virgin! Olive oil is a key flavor ingredient.
- Garlic – Obviously, lots of it.
- Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese – Only the best cheese will do, especially when the recipe has so few ingredients.
- Aleppo Pepper – Aleppo pepper is traditionally used in middle eastern dishes, it is a dried pepper with a salty fruity flavor and a long lingering mild spice. I am obsessed. You can 100% use crushed red pepper, it will work and it will be delicious, but I LOVE the addition of Aleppo in this dish.
TOOLS YOU WILL USE:
HOW TO MAKE SPICY SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI PASTA:
- Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once it comes to a boil add a large spoonful of salt (the pasta water should taste like seawater). Add pasta and cook according to instructions – DO NOT DRAIN ALL WATER! (see below)
- Prep the broccoli for roasting. Break broccoli into florets, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast until browned and toasty.
- While broccoli is cooking brown the sausage in a large skillet, once browned add garlic slices, and cook until tender.
- Add spinach to the pan and wilt. Season with salt and pepper (depending on how salty the sausage is, season to your taste)
- Using a slotted spoon (or my favorite kitchen tool – a spider) spoon pasta into sausage mixture and stir. Add roasted broccoli and a generous pinch of Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper.
- Add 1/4 cup of pasta water to the pasta and sausage, stir well.
- Serve on individual plates with a generous drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and additional Aleppo pepper.
NUTRITION NERD CORNER 🤓
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHIER COMFORT FOOD!
Here is the thing friend, I live by the “all foods fit” philosophy. I don't believe in one strong dietary dogma, rather, I guide my clients to improve their relationship with food and embrace supportive nourishment. This means pasta ABSOLUTELY fits into a healthy diet, it is purely a matter of understanding how and when it fits.
In all fairness, I also personally find a lot of foods to fit into the “comfort food” category. Including wholesome vegetable soup, chili, a perfect roast chicken, and definitely a melty chocolate chip cookie.
With all of that said, here are some things I think about when creating healthier comfort food recipes.
QUICK AND EASY IDEAS TO UPGRADE YOUR COMFORT FOOD!
- Where are the veggies?? In case you haven't noticed, I LOVE vegetables and find a way to add them to just about every meal, comfort food included. In this sausage and broccoli pasta, I also added spinach because TWO veggies are better than ONE 🙂
- Go for quality over quantity! This recipe calls for parmesan cheese, I use authentic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The real deal. It makes a difference. A salty snowstorm of parm on top of pasta is always a good idea!
DIETARY MODIFICATIONS FOR THIS RECIPE:
- Gluten-Free – Use gluten-free pasta
- Vegetarian – Use crumbled soy sausage or crumbled tempeh
- Vegan – Use crumbled soy sausage or crumbled tempeh, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast
MORE HEALTHY-ISH COMFORT FOOD RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE:
I can’t wait for you to try this Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Pasta! When you make it, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @abrapappa or use the hashtag #abraskitchen so I can feature your photo!
If you’ve tried this recipe, don’t forget to rate and leave a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!
Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Pasta
- 3/4 lb. fusilli pasta
- 1 lb. ground Italian sausage
- 8 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1 lb. baby spinach 3-4 cups of baby spinach
- 1/2 tsp aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
- 3 cups broccoli florets about 1 large head of broccoli
- 2 tbsp olive oil plus more for topping
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese plus more for topping
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the fusilli and cook according to package instructions (reserve pasta water!)
- Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli for roasting. Break broccoli into florets, spread out on a sheet pan, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in a 425° oven for 20 minutes until the edges are crispy and the stems tender.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook, breaking apart with a spoon, until lightly browned, 5-6 minutes. Add up to 1 tbsp of olive oil to skillet if needed (if the sausage releases a lot of fat you will not need to add any additional oil).
- Add garlic to pan, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add spinach and stir until wilted.
- Using a slotted spoon, add pasta to the pan with sausage, stir well and slowly stir in 1/4 cup of salted pasta water. Add roasted broccoli, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, and toss to blend.
- Serve with additional cheese sprinkled on top, a drizzle of olive oil, and an extra pinch of Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper).
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