Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Penne with Broccoli Rabe Pesto and Turkey Sausage

Italian food makes me go weak in the knees.... and what better than a swoon worthy bowl of delicious pasta that has an entire serving of veggies in it!? 

Pesto traditionally consists of basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. 
For this flavor packed version I substituted the basil for some peppery broccoli rabe, kept the rest of the ingredients the same,  and ended up with a delicious, nutritious, meal.

1 bunch broccoli rabe, tough stems removed
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
2 cloves garlic
1 pound turkey sausage, sliced 3/4 inch thick
1 pound whole wheat penne
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut stems off of broccoli and blanch until tender, about one minute. Remove broccoli and place in an ice bath until cool. Reserve the cooking water.

Place broccoli, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and continue pulsing until pesto is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.... and red pepper flakes if you would like a little spice.

Note: To toast the pine nuts, just heat them in a pan over medium heat until they begin to turn golden brown. Kepp a close eye because they burn fast!

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown sausage until cooked through. While you are cooking the sausage, return the reserved cooking water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. I almost always use fresh pasta.... it tastes so much better and cooks in 2-3 minutes! You can purchase it at your local market.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of water. Toss pasta, sausage, and pesto together gradually adding the reserved water until you get a creamy consistency. Serve with parmesan cheese.

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