Before my son was born, I went to the grocery store, oh, four, maybe five times a week. I'd just swing by on my way home from work. Easy peasy. Now? Not so much. I have to time said trip to the grocery store with nap time to avoid a meltdown in the checkout line. Then I have to carry my giant baby without wrenching my neck. Add in a diaper bag the size of a small car and attempting to navigate through the narrow aisles...it's just not so easy any more. Needless to say, I don't swing by the grocery store nearly as often.
With my frequently empty fridge shelves, I have to get creative when I'm making dinner. Recently I uncovered some Italian chicken sausage buried in my freezer, a giant tub of spinach that was on its last legs, and plenty of pasta in my pantry. I was really hoping I had some sun-dried tomatoes, and I did! But they expired in August 2012. Mental note, clean out the fridge more often. Half an onion in the veggie drawer leftover from something. Garlic? And wine. Boom. Done. Dinner here we come.
The recipe below is what I made with my kitchen discoveries. I included substitutions, though, to help you get creative with what you have around the house. Use this recipe as a base, and clean out your cupboards! There's no need to go out in the cold to get groceries tonight.
Pasta with Spicy Chicken Sausage and Spinach
2 cups short pasta (I used rotini, but any short pasta will do.)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 spicy Italian chicken sausages (Substitution ideas: chicken, canned white beans, ground beef)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic (Substitution ideas: fresh garlic, obviously...I didn't have any.)
1/3 cup white wine (Substitution ideas: chicken or vegetable broth, water)
6 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach (Substitution ideas: frozen spinach, kale)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Substitution ideas: cream cheese, fontina cheese)
Cook pasta in lots of salted boiling water according to package directions. When it's finished cooking, save some of the pasta cooking water. Then drain your pasta and set it aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add the chicken sausage and cook until it's browned on all sides, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add about 1/4" of water to the skillet, reduce heat to low, cover, and allow the sausages to simmer until they're cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Check on the water level once or twice to make sure it hasn't totally evaporated. If it's almost all gone, just add a bit more water. Once they're cooked, remove sausages and slice them into 1/4" thick pieces. Set them on a plate and cover to keep warm.
Dump any remaining water out of your skillet and add another 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until it's very soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic powder and cook for another 30 seconds. Stir in wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate all of that browned goodness into the sauce. Allow the wine to cook and reduce for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the spinach and season with lots of salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often, until the spinach has cooked down and softened. Stir in reserved sausage and pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and add about 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Stir everything together. Taste it and add salt and pepper or additional Parmesan cheese if it needs more pizzazz. If it seems too dry, stir in a bit more pasta water. Serve with extra cheese on top.