Friday, September 28, 2012

Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Brussel Sprouts

When I was a child, probably seven or eight years old, my grandmother cooked a pasta dish that I loved. It was linguine and broccoli in sauce. But what kind of sauce? I wasn't sure. It was mostly clear with flecks of green. I liked it so much that it stuck with me for years, but for some reason my kid brain never asked what it was called. By the time I was old enough to ask, no one remembered the dish.

Once at a restaurant a few years later I ordered linquini in a white clam sauce thinking that was it. Nope. I was severely disappointed. Surprisingly, the mystery was solved just a few weeks ago when I cooked...

The Pin: Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Brussel Sprouts by Gimme Some Oven
Difficulty: 4 (1 = Easy, 10 = Hard)

Lo and behold! I'd found the mystery sauce. It was pesto! I don't know why, but I haven't had a proper pesto sauce since I was a kid. After my first taste of this dish, I instantly recognized the flavor I'd had so many years ago. It's funny the things your brain remembers.

Let's cook with pesto!

It's pasta makin' time!
I've made this dish three times now, and yes all three times I used jarred pesto. I know, lazy cook! I thought about making my own. I really did, but then I'd have to find a recipe for pesto, and it involved using the food processor and... oh look, that jar of pesto is already in my cart. Well too late now! Jarred it is!

The recipe calls for "orecchiette (or any pasta)." I've never been able to find orecchiette, so I went with any other pasta. In this case farfalle, bow tie pasta. The recipe also says, "4 chicken sausage links (I used spicy Italian)." For some reason, I've never found Italian chicken sausage, so I used Cajun.

Saute the garlic and sausage,

I've never tried chicken sausage before this dish. It's surprisingly good.
Roast the brussel sprouts,

The burn gives it flavor!
Cook your pasta, and throw everything together in a bowl.

Use a large bowl. It makes a lot of food.
Then eat!

Left: Mine - Right: Gimme Some Oven
This is a good dish with a few caveats.

  1. The ratio of sausage/sprouts to pasta is way off. The dish either needs less pasta, or more meat and veg. In taking the picture in the big bowl, I had to keep stirring to get the brussel sprouts and chicken sausage on top. Otherwise, they were buried in the mounds of pasta.
  2. I've made this dish three times now, I Iike to add a touch more pesto than called for by the recipe. Not a lot more, but two or three table spoons more make a huge difference.
  3. When adding the cooked brussel sprouts, you may want to pick out any stray burnt leaves. Mine were incredibly salty.
  4. If you're thinking of substituting regular pork sausage for the chicken sausage, I have one word of advice for you: DON'T. I love spicy Italian pork sausage, so the second time I made this I used it instead of the chicken. It was... okay, but it's much better with the chicken sausage. The pork sausage overpowers and clashes with the pesto.
My husband also enjoyed this dish, though he requested I make it with broccoli next time instead of brussel sprouts. He'll east brussel sprouts, but he's not a huge fan.

Final Rating: 6.5* (1 = Bad, 10 = Awesome)

* My husband wanted me to rate this a 5, but I think it deserves better. If I were to include my changes (including the vegetable substitution), I'd bump my rating up to 7 or 8. Cook at your own discretion. 

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