Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Garden Vegetables

Image contributed by The Tom

Image contributed by The Tom

This is a simple and easy meal to fix, especially for summer because many of the vegetables in this recipe are from our garden. Although you can use any kind of pasta you want, I used whole wheat rotini pasta (16 oz.). Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the box. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, you can start chopping the vegetables that you may have purchased or picked from your garden.

The vegetables I used included a bunch of green Swiss chard, a bunch of kale, three baby summer squashes, one small Japanese eggplant (long and thin), a few clusters of cauliflower, a small cluster of broccoli, and three small Italian green peppers. Although not from our garden, I also peeled four carrots and diced them. Set aside the chopped/diced vegetables and slice an onion, which you will also set aside. Then, open a 12-oz. package of fully cooked chicken sausage and cut up the sausage into small pieces and set aside. I used Trader Joe’s chicken sausage with spinach, fontina, and roasted garlic. I also set aside a few leaves of fresh basil (also from our garden).

When you’re in the middle of chopping the vegetables and chicken sausage, you will be interrupted when the water starts boiling; so you start cooking the pasta. Once the pasta is cooked and you’ve drained the water, put the pasta into a big bowl or stock pot or any big container because after you’ve sautéed your vegetables with the chicken sausage, you will mix them with the pasta.

Take out a big skillet and put in enough olive oil (labeled for cooking) to sauté all the vegetables over medium heat. First, you sauté the onion. After a minute, add the chopped broccoli stalk (you will add the florets later so they don’t get overcooked). After about a minute, put in the chopped carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, summer squash, and green peppers. After about a minute, add the cut up chicken sausage. Keep stirring and cooking over medium heat for about three minutes, then add the broccoli florets, fresh basil, kale, and Swiss chard. Continue stirring until the green leafy vegetables are thoroughly mixed in with the other vegetables and chicken sausage. Turn down the temperature to 4 if medium is 5.

Pour in a 24-oz. jar of ready-made spaghetti sauce. I used Tomato and Basil flavored sauce. Keep stirring and put a little water into the jar to swish out the residue into the skillet. Stir and add a 13.76-oz. carton of crushed tomatoes with basil (a product of Italy, Cirio is the brand name I used). If you prefer to use your own homemade tomato-based spaghetti sauce, then use that, but that’s another recipe. This is supposed to be quick, although you might ask how can chopping all those vegetables be quick? The trade-off is you are using pre-cooked meat and pre-made sauce. You want to have a meal done in half an hour, more or less; that gives you more time for dining!

Place a lid over the skillet and turn down the heat to medium low, to 3. Stir occasionally and turn it off when you see the sauce is heated through, meaning it starts bubbling. When done, pour the whole vegetable and chicken sausage mixture into the container where you’ve placed the pasta and stir. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Complement the dish with an optional bottle of fine wine, and warmed artisan bread like Pain de Campagne dipped in olive oil (for salads and dipping). Just mix in garlic powder, grated Parmesan cheese, and parsley. Dip with glee.

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