Table of Contents
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what makes a recipe a weeknight meal. We all hear the phrase “weeknight,” I’ve even used it in the past, and instantly know what it insinuates: a meal that’s delicious and quick. The problem is that quick is different for each person. I’m beginning to think of weeknight meals as recipes that can be finished in around 30 minutes for someone that’s moderately comfortable in the kitchen.
This creamy sausage and spinach pasta is a new weeknight favorite. The sausage is browned in the skillet, and while it’s browning, you can cook the pasta. Once the sausage is browned, the sauce can be finished with some cream, pasta water, and of course cheese.
Within 30 minutes, the meal is ready! It’s full of flavor and super filling. What more could you ask of in a weeknight meal?
The ingredients in this weeknight pasta recipe
- Ground pork is the base to make a quick sausage along with fennel, oregano, garlic, and onion powder. You can also easily substitute store-bought sausage and skip the spices.
- Pasta will always be a great option for a weeknight meal. Personally, I use Sflogini trumpet pasta, but any pasta that will grab onto the sauce will work.
- Onion and garlic are sautéed before creating the sausage. Sautéing the onion and garlic first will develop more flavor along with some well-appreciated caramelization.
- Heavy cream adds richness and fat, which is a crucial building block of this recipe’s sauce. The fat content of heavy cream allows the cream to be simmered without breaking. As the cream is simmered, it reduces and thickens.
- Pasta water, along with the cream, builds the sauce. As the pasta cooks in the water, the pasta leaves starch in the cooking liquid. When added to the sauce, this starch content helps thicken the sauce.
- Parmesan cheese is grated into the sauce when the dish is almost finished. Parmesan cheese melts nicely and flavors the sauce.
- Spinach is added at the end of the cooking, wilting into the pasta. Spinach wilts quickly and provides extra nutrients. Even picky kids won’t mind the spinach!
This pasta comes truly comes together within 30 minutes or less. The ingredients may already be in your pantry and are easy to find at the store if not. The flavors are simple, but also special. The slightly creamy sauce is flavored with the homemade sausage and Parmesan cheese, and will satisfy everyone in the family!
Watch how to make this sausage and spinach pasta recipe
Creamy Sausage & Spinach Pasta
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 lb ground pork (can substitute pre-made sausage)
- 1 lb pasta (used Sfoglini trumpets)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup pasta cooking liquid
- 4 oz grated Parmesan cheese
- 5 oz baby spinach
- 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
- In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the onion, salt, and pepper. Sauté until slightly browned, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Once the garlic has cooked, add the fennel, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and ground pork. Break apart and cook the meat until browned, 6-8 minutes.1 small onion, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 3 cloves garlic, 1 tsp fennel seed, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp red pepper flakes, 1 lb ground pork (can substitute pre-made sausage)
- While the meat is browning in a large stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tbsp of salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente, meaning the pasta has 1-2 minutes left until fully cooked. While cooking, scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water (see the next step). Once al dente, drain the pasta and return to the stockpot.1 lb pasta (used Sfoglini trumpets)
- Once the meat is browned, add the heavy cream and the pasta water. Bring to a simmer and cook on medium-low heat for 2 minutes.1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup pasta cooking liquid
- Add the Parmesan cheese and cream mixture to the drained pasta. Stir to combine over low heat. The pasta will finish cooking and absorb the sauce.4 oz grated Parmesan cheese
- Finish by adding in the spinach to the pasta. Stir for 1 minute, allowing the spinach to wilt. Add the lemon zest at the end and serve immediately.5 oz baby spinach, 1 tbsp grated lemon zest