Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pasta, Sausage & Spinach...and a word to the wise for planning a menu

The lesson here will not be the recipe, since that's fairly simple - though I will include it. The lesson is how to plan a dish (or an entire menu) around one central ingredient, no matter what it is.

So I bought chicken sausage at Trader Joe's (I recommend, its good), specifically chicken, spinach, garlic and fontina cheese sausage. I could've just grilled it and then dropped it on a plate with some rice and frozen vegetables, but, if I did that, I wouldn't be me. So instead I put on some water to make penne and then I sauteed a can of diced Italian tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, some thyme and oregano and in a separate saute pan cooked fresh spinach in olive oil, garlic and white wine until it was gently wilted. Meanwhile the sausage was grilled (though the TJ's sausage is pre-cooked) until it was crispy on the outside and then I diced it up, added it to the tomato sauce and added in the spinach.

Last, I took the mix, topped the pasta and then tore up some fresh basil and grated some parmesan on top.

The point is that I looked at what the sausage was made of and then I created an extension of it for the dinner. Granted, I had no fontina cheese but parmesan worked just as well and is optional anyway. This is great trick - especially when you buy things like the sausage that are sort of pre-made.

- Melissa

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