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In early June, I had a “batch cooking” day with my daughter. We always love cooking together and on that day, we were especially productive. In a mere 3 ½ hours, we prepared enough for her household (and for the two adults in my home) including bread, cookies, pulled barbecued turkey meat for sandwiches, chicken chili (enough for 16 guests), and this whole wheat rotini pasta dish. Other items were created, but it was such a whirlwind, I cannot remember them. Oh yeah, Caesar salad dressing and fresh croutons, cut up veggies for the fridge…on and on.
This is one of the recipes we chose to make together. Although this has been in my files for a long time, I forgot how unusual and delicious it tastes! I like this pasta iteration because, ratio wise, there are less noodles and a lot more tomatoes, chicken sausage and olives – the good stuff. This is a great make ahead dish if you choose. When ready to reheat, remove the serving dish from the fridge at least an hour beforehand. Either microwave to reheat or add some of the pasta water or milk, grate cheese on top and cover with foil. Heat at 350 until piping hot.
Hearty Chicken Sausage Rotini
- 2 cups whole wheat Fusilli pasta (or regular semolina pasta)
- 5 links of Chicken Basil Sundried Tomato Sausage (or any kind) casings removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, drained and halved
- 12 brown mushrooms, stems removed mushrooms sliced thick** (see note if you or yours do not like mushrooms)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cups fresh Parmigiano Reggiano, grated on the microplane
- An additional cup of grated cheese, and a few basil sprigs (to serve)
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta, add 2 teaspoons of sea salt and add fusilli after it starts boiling. Cook a little al dente or about 1-2 minutes less than what the pasta package calls for. Drain but reserve about a cup of the pasta water and set aside.
Heat a large, 12-inch skillet and when hot, add olive oil. Wait one minute then turn the heat to medium and add chunks of sausage. Turn the sausage so it starts to brown, and after about three minutes add the garlic, olives and mushrooms**. Continue cooking until the sausage is done.
Add the drained noodles to the pan and then add the tomatoes followed by the capers. Add some pasta water if the dish seems a little “dry”
Add the grated cheese to the hot pasta in the skillet and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt or pepper to taste. I rarely add much salt due to the kalamatas, capers and cheese!
Serve in bowls with additional grated cheese and fresh basil.
** Regarding the mushrooms, if you are serving this to children who are mushroom-averse, you chop them very finely in a food processor or nutribullet. The flavor from the mushrooms is so good, and not having chunks of identifiable mushroom seems to make this a child-friendly dish.