Tonight was what I call a "dinner in a hurry." It's a meal that can be made in less than 30 minutes (usually between 15 and 20 minutes) and it uses mostly pantry items. Tonight's meal was raved about by everyone, and the kids all had seconds so I knew that I should get to the computer and share it with you right away before I forgot how I made it. (I just threw it together with what I had on hand, so the "recipe" is only in how I remember it right now.) Of course, like most of my meals, feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand to suit your needs and likes/dislikes. My family loved this dish as is, so I don't think I'll be changing much in the future (other than adding some zucchini from the garden because I forgot to do that this time around).
Since this was a meal that I just threw together last minute, I don't have step by step pictures but honestly it's incredibly easy. It's actually a meal that I would feel 100% percent comfortable letting my 10 year old son make by himself. (Did I mention that he often wants to make dinner? It's one of my greatest accomplishments knowing that I have instilled a love of cooking in my son!) Anyway, enough talking, here's the recipe:
Italian Sausage Pasta
1 package of 5 Italian Sausage Links (I used mild, but if you like things spicy use hot)
1 12 oz package of tri-color Penne pasta (my kids like the mini version, but any noodle/size works)
1 6 oz can of black olives, drained and sliced
1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 14.5 oz can of organic diced tomatoes
2 big handfuls of organic baby spinach, washed and dried
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 - 1/3 cup Zesty Italian Dressing (I just used what was left in my bottle. Add it to taste.)
crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
Put a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Salt the water generously and add the pasta. Stir and cook until 1 minute less than the package directions. Drain and return to the hop pot.
While the water is coming up to a boil for the pasta, cook the sausage links any way you wish (I recommend grilling, but sauteing works nicely too). Once browned and cooked through, set aside to rest.
To the cooked and drained hot pasta, add the tomatoes (with the juice), olives, artichokes, and spinach. Stir. Add in the Italian Seasoning, Italian Dressing and the red pepper flakes (if using). Stir again to combine.
Slice the sausages into rounds, keeping any juice that comes off them. Add the cut sausages and juice to the pasta pot. Stir and serve warm. (The longer it sits the more the flavors meld.)