30- Minute Sausage Spinach Rotini Bake with caramelized onion, whole wheat pasta, perfectly seasoned fire roasted tomatoes and a golden cheese topping. Green, delicious, fresh and healthy!
Oh my.. has it ever been one of those days! It started early, like really early with a 3 AM wakeup call in the form of a shriek coming from my 6-year old son’s room. Ear infection. Why oh why do ear infections always come in the dead of night when getting your hands on an antibiotic is as hopeless as breaking into Fort Knox. Ear Infections. Suck.
Soo, suffice it to say, I was the first call the the doctors office when they opened up this morning.
I won’t bore you with the details, but somewhere along the line we added “alleged stomach virus” to our early morning. By the time I dragged my super sick 6 year old and jealous-of -all-the-attention 3 year old through the doors of the doctor’s office we were all 3 in rare form.
sobbing WAILING, shaking and carrying a large white bowl in case, well.. you know. Campbell was irate that I pushed the elevator button and I was sporting sweat pants, Mom bun and yesterday’s make-up. The whole scene was made all the more exciting by the fact that it was POURING rain, sooo naturally, we were drenched.
I saw Mother’s pull their children closer as we walked in. Cooper was laying it on thick. Upon our arrival we were escorted out of the waiting room IMMEDIATELY, grateful mothers sagging with relief at our exit. Cooper was crying inconsolably and yelling that he was going to throw up as they administered a flu test, checked for appendicitis and most likely other highly contagious life-threatening diseases (you guys, they were wearing masks).
I’m going to stop the story now, with an aside. Cooper is dramatic. He has been from birth. The diagnosis, ear-infection. On our way out concerned nurses inquired if he was ok (he was still shrieking about throwing up – which never happened). I almost laughed out loud at their expressions when I told them that we were not in fact headed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy, but to Kroger for amoxicillin.
It’s 11:30 AM and I am ready for today to be over. Never good.
Sooooo… today’s recipe. Simple and make-ahead friendly, cause when the boys go down for naps this afternoon, Mama is too!
This recipe really couldn’t be any simpler. Chop the veggies, heat the sausage, boil water, throw together a VERY simple sauce, and then toss it all together. Bake it right away or later (after your nap). Whatever works for you!
Time Saving Tips and Tricks:
Prep: There’s not a ton of chopping necessary for this recipe, but enough that Prepping it ahead of time will definitely save on time. Chop onion, garlic, thyme and rinse the spinach. You could even take it one step further and go ahead and assemble the entire thing… follow recipe directions, but don’t bake. Instead, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 1-2 days. When you’re ready, just pop it in the oven!
Make-Ahead: I’m going to level with you, it tastes better fresh. With that said, I’ve never met leftovers I don’t like. So, while I won’t serve it a second time for dinner, I do plan to enjoy pre-portioned lunches from the leftovers All. Week. Long.
Freezer: I haven’t tried freezing this dish, but imagine that it would work out well. I would suggest following recipe directions, but maybe under cooking the pasta just a bit so that it doesn’t get all soggy when it heats in the oven. I don’t have precise cooking times, but I think that it would similar to a frozen lasagna, maybe 30-40 minutes at 350? If you give it a shot let me know and I will update this information.
- 8 oz baby spinach leaves
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 TBS fresh thyme, chopped
- Olive Oil
- 5 links Italian chicken sausage, sliced into ½ inch rounds
- ¼ tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp course salt
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp oregano
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 12 oz. rotini pasta
- 2 15 oz. cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- Heat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Chop onion, garlic, thyme and chicken sausage.
- Heat 1 TBS of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add sausage to pan and cook in a single layer until browned at edges (about 3 minutes on each side). Remove from pan and set aside.
- Once pasta water is boiling, add rigatoni to the pot. After 10-12 minutes, add spinach. Cook until spinach is soft and pasta is al dente. 2-3 more minutes. Drain and set aside.
- To the same skillet, add onions. Cook until softened (about 4 minutes). Add garlic, fennel seed, basil, garlic powder, salt, rosemary, oregano and red pepper flakes (optional). Cook 1 minute.
- To the skillet, add diced tomatoes and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer until pasta is ready.
- To an oven safe pan (I used the same pan I cooked the pasta in), combine drained spinach/pasta mixture, tomato sauce and cooked sausage. Stir to combine. Top with mozzarella and parmesan.
- Bake in oven until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
- I purchased Applegate Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage for this recipe (<– not sponsored, just love it). It’s made from real food ingredients and free from junky additives. It also doesn’t have a tough casing around it like so many other sausages I have tried.
- I don’t purchase all organic, but I do like to splurge on meat, dairy and any fruit or veggie on the dirty dozen list. For this reason I used organic mozzarella, parmesan spinach, and diced tomatoes for this recipe.
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