Need a fast weeknight recipe? Try this easy, hearty, and completely cozy Spinach and Italian Sausage Orzo. The sauce is made from pureed sweet potatoes, so it’s healthy and nutritious. Italian sausage is always a winner, and you can choose a low fat version made from chicken to save calories.
I made this easy dinner in about 20 minutes, my legs tangled around my dog who thinks I’m her personal cook, and Greg spectating his MotoGP racing in the background (which goes like: engines… British commentators… engines, “UOOOOOOOOOH!!! …” engines…“OOOOOOOOH!!!”). At least we’re even for the David Attenborough shows I make him watch.
If you’re unfamiliar with orzo, it’s just a small rice-shaped pasta that cooks very quickly. It’s very versatile and great in lunch salads tossed with some sautéed vegetables, or in a more substantial dinner dish like this one. I really enjoy it’s texture, and “bite” when cooked al-dente. I mixed all of my cooked ingredients in a big bowl, then served this as a casserole-style dish simply for the ease of carrying it into the living room and ladling on our own servings — I didn’t want to interrupt a guy watching his sports. So no worries, the pan is just for show, you don’t need to bake anything!
I used leftover sweet potatoes to make the sauce, so it just binds the pasta. If you’d like a more creamy version, double the sweet potatoes and milk!
- 1½ cups orzo pasta
- 2 tbs olive oil, divided
- 4 links of italian sausage (about 450g, roughly 1lb)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium zucchinis, diced
- 1 medium red pepper, diced
- 1 head of spinach, leaves only
- 1 cup pureed sweet potatoes
- ¼ cup milk
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 tsp turmeric
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta in salted water until al-dente, then drain, reserving a few tablespoons of cooking water. Mix the water with the drained pasta to prevent it from drying out, and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Slice the sausage to desired thickness and brown, stirring occasionally. When the sausage is cooked, remove from skillet and set aside.
- Pour the remaining olive oil to the skillet and warm up over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, then add the zucchini and red pepper, mixing well and cook until softened — 2 – 3 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and toss to combine, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 – 2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted.
- In a large bowl, combine the orzo, the sausage, and the vegetables. In a separate bowl, mix the pureed sweet potatoes with milk, add a pinch of nutmeg and turmeric, then add to the bowl with the pasta mixture. Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.