Saturday, April 6, 2013

Penne Pasta with Arugula Pesto, Chicken Sausages & Goat Cheese

Mmm, pasta with pesto! I think most people enjoy any meal where pasta and pesto are involved - I know I do. Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, but I prefer to make my pestos with almonds or walnuts. Don't get me wrong, I love the flavor of pine nuts - but they are pricier than the other nuts and they aren't as healthy. I also have a slight allergy to pine nuts! Walnuts and almonds are both loaded with protein & they are SUPER foods. Score! The pesto recipe I'm sharing today uses walnuts.

I came across this recipe in the April 2013 edition of Glamour magazine. Over my spring break, I was able to catch up with all of the latest beauty & fashion trends that I will never be able to pull off. Luckily making pasta isn't trendy - it's here to stay - and it's something I can definitely pull off with successful results! The recipe said to use basil with the arugula, but since I didn't have any basil on hand (and neither did the grocery store), I used parsley. I also added chicken sausages and goat cheese to the recipe and it made for a delicious and satisfying meal. It actually made for 8 delicious &  satisfying meals last week - I made it for dinner Sunday and Greg and I ate it for lunch throughout the week.

I think this meal would be fabulous even without the sausage, so leave it out if you want to go (or if you are) vegetarian. Enjoy! 

Recipe for Penne Pasta with Arugula Pesto, Sausage & Goat Cheese

For the pesto
2/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
2/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup of finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese (use a microplane to grate)!
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. of lemon zest (use a microplane to zest)!
A pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes
A pinch of coarse sea salt
2 1/2 cups of baby arugula
3 Tbsp. of parsley leaves
1/2 - 1 Tbsp. water (to add in for a smoother pesto)

For the pasta/sausages/assembling
12 ounces mild Italian chicken sausage links, sliced 1/4-inch thick (omit to make vegetarian)
1 16-ounce box of penne pasta (I used brown rice pasta)
1Tbsp. of sea salt
Baby arugula
Crumbled goat cheese
Lightly toasted walnuts (optional)

Put the walnuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, black pepper, lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt, baby arugula, and parsley into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and smooth. To make it smoother, add in 1/2 - 1 Tbsp. of water and pulse. Set pesto aside.
Cook the chicken sausages according to package directions. While sausages are cooking, put the 1 Tbsp. of salt into a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Once sausages are done cooking, remove from heat and set aside. Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente (follow package directions). Drain the water from the pasta. Pour pasta into a large bowl. Mix in the pesto sauce, a little at a time, stirring after each addition, until it is all gone. Add in the chicken sausages and stir. Divide pasta onto plates. Top each plate of pasta with baby arugula, crumbled goat cheese, walnuts, and freshly ground black pepper.
*Recipe makes 6 - 10 servings*

Recipe Adapted from Glamour Magazine - April 2013, courtesy of Zahra Tangorra

Other recipe(s) like this one: Pasta with Red Grapes and Chicken Sausage