(This is an old recipe that had been removed from the site. A few readers wanted it so I am adding back this printer-friendly recipe for those who were a fan of this version. Here is a link to the new low-carb version made with Palmini Pasta.)

Makes 4-6 servings, original recipe by Russel Ito and featured in Bon Appetit October 1998.

3 links (3/4 pound) hot turkey Italian sausage (or use pre-cooked chicken or turkey sausage of your choice)
2-3 T olive oil (depending on the pan and whether you use pre-cooked sausage)
3/4 lb. thickly sliced mushrooms, or more (I used brown Crimini mushrooms)
1/2 red onion, cut into thin slivers
5 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
10 oz. baby spinach leaves (or more)
1 1/4 cup chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock, but you can use canned chicken broth)
1/2 lb. (2 cups dry) penne pasta (use whole wheat penne or Dreamfields for the South Beach Diet; you can also make this lower in carbs by reducing the amount of pasta)
1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus a little more for serving if desired)
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Fill a medium-sized pot with water, add a generous amount of salt and bring to a boil to cook the pasta. Wash spinach if needed and spin dry or dry with paper towels.

If using raw turkey Italian sausage like I did, heat about 2 tsp. olive oil in large heavy skillet, add sausages and cook until they are firm and well browned. Let sausage cool, then slice in rounds and brown again, adding a bit more oil if needed. (If you use pre-cooked turkey or chicken sausage, just slice and brown the sausage.)

As soon as pasta water boils, add the pasta, stir, reduce heat to a low boil and cook just until pasta is al-dente. This was exactly 9 minutes for the Dreamfield’s pasta I used, but check package for cooking time. Drain cooked pasta in a colander placed in the sink.

While pasta cooks slice mushrooms and red onions and mince garlic. Remove browned sausage to a bowl, add a little more oil to the pan and add mushrooms, cooking 3-4 minutes or until they start to release liquid. Add the red onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook about 5-6 minutes more, or until mushrooms are lightly browned and onions are cooked.

Put sausage back into the pan with the mushrooms and onions, add the stock and cook 2-3 minutes, or until the sausage is hot. Then add the spinach all at once, tossing with the hot mushrooms-sausage mixture until the spinach wilts, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the drained pasta and heat for a minute or two. Then add both kinds of cheese and toss until the cheese melts and coats the pasta, about 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve hot, with more Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on at the table if desired.

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