I love food. Like, love food. Cooking and baking are up there in my top five favorite things. I’d say my family is lucky but really I’m just selfish - I’m kind of picky and like to eat good food myself. Unless you pay close attention to my Read, Watched, Listened posts, where I often read about food, listen to podcasts about food, or, more frequently, watch various miniseries about food, you may not know this about me. All this to say that while this never has been and never will be what you might call a “food blog”, I’m going to try adding favorite recipes of mine every once in awhile. I’d love to hear if you try any of them - and if they become one of your favorites, too!
While my kids may refuse to eat soup, they will never turn down a plate of pasta. Nobody in this house would dare look away from a bowl of hot, glorious, Parmesan cheese-covered carbs. Penne, angel hair, fettuccini, orecchietti, linguine, tagliatelle, tortellini, ravioli. We may not claim a drop of Italian blood but when it comes to pasta we are all in.
“What you make, Mommy?” Nolan asks every night while I cook dinner. I guarantee that when I show him a pot full of boiling pasta he does a big dance, smacks his lips, and screams, “Pasta! Yay! Nummy nummy num num num!” If you haven’t caught on by now, subtle this kid is not.
Basically what I’m saying is, if you want to be a hero in my house at dinnertime, make pasta.
And pasta and I get along just fine. I make a pretty good plate of pasta if I do say so myself. This specific dish came about because Tyson once ordered something similar from one of our favorite restaurants in Madison. I snuck a couple bites of the deliciousness before my wheels started turning and I thought, “Hey...I could make that…”
I should clarify here that I’m good at making pasta in a pretty lazy way. The weeknight way. I’m not talking about rolling out my own pasta here (though I would love to tackle homemade pasta sometime very soon). I’m talking about getting pasta on the table for dinner because people are hungry and I need something simple that’s going to taste good.
The addition of sausage in this dish catches the attention of the boys. Broccoli delights all three of my kids, who have yet to catch on to that whole “kids don’t like broccoli” thing. (Don’t worry, they still quickly and happily reject Brussels sprouts, white potatoes in all but French fry form, and whatever fruit I’ve currently stocked up on because it was their favorite last week.)
It’s quick enough for a weeknight - on the table in less than 30 minutes - yet delicious enough to make for guests. There’s enough here for lunchtime leftovers the next day, especially if you serve it with a Caesar salad on the side. It’s nothing revolutionary, yet this has been in my meal planning rotation for years now and it’s not going anywhere. Possibly ever.
A simple, yummy, dish with the possibility of leftovers on the table in the month of December in 30 minutes or less? And all the parents said, “Amen.”
Weeknight Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli
I prefer to use gemelli or orecchietti here, though you can use any medium to small-ish sized pasta. Penne would also work, as would rotini. And if you can get your hands on some broccolini to sub for the broccoli (and you’re cooking for adults or there’s the chance your kids will eat it), the bitterness adds a nice contrast to the cream sauce.
1 16-oz. box pasta
3 links sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8 cloves garlic, don’t be shy here
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 large head broccoli, chopped
1/4 -1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
shredded Parmesan cheese, for serving
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, add olive oil to skillet. Add sausage and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up and crumbling until browned. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add broccoli and stir to combine, cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken stock and cover skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until broccoli is crisp-tender and bright green, about 5 minutes.
Add pasta to skillet and toss well. Add cream and stir to coat. I err on the 1/2 cup or sometimes more side here - until everything is well-coated. Add basil, salt, and pepper. Serve topped with Parmesan and watch smugly as your kids gobble it up.