Simplified Pasta with Beans and Sausage

Thu. August 30, 2012 12:00 AM
by Brad Mercil

I've had a rough day at work because I sat through several meetings that seemed more like battles, listened to numerous complaints from co-workers and broke several log jams to get several projects back on track. Can you relate?

Even though my work life (or should I say life in general) is crazy, I still enjoy good food that I've prepared myself. I don't do fast food anymore and I'm not real big on taking something frozen out of the freezer to microwave. So what's a guy supposed to do when he's hungry, tired and wants something good to eat.

One of my "go to" recipes that always brings the grandma flavor you've heard me talk about that before is pasta with beans and sausage. This dinner doesn't require alot of fancy ingredients and can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. Since I've simplified this recipe, you should have most of the ingredients in your pantry. What you'll need from the grocery store is Italian sausage, spinach, fresh rosemary and parmesan cheese and lemon olive oil for a final drizzle on top. Most grocery stores now carry flavored olive oils.

The other nice thing about this recipe is that you don't waste a thing. I use the juice that the cannellini beans are packed in, you reserve pasta water for the sauce, and you get the caramelized flavor from the onions and garlic as you cook the sausage. To start this recipe, get your pasta water boiling, clean the spinach, and then chop the onion, garlic and rosemary.

So let's get started... .


Pasta with Beans and Sausage
(Pasta con Fagioli e Salsicce)



16 oz. (1 lb.) Cavatappi pasta (any tube style pasta will work)
16 oz. mild Italian sausage
Two cans (15 oz. each) cannellini beans with packing juice
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
10 oz. of baby spinach, washed and cleaned
1 tsp. of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tblsp. olive oil
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Lemon olive oil for drizzling


Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat to cook pasta according to package directions. While the pasta water is heating, clean and rinse the baby spinach and chop the onion, garlic and rosemary.

While the pasta water is still coming to a boil, heat a large frying pan over medium high heat and add olive oil to pan. Add onions and cook for two minutes until the onion just starts to turn brown on the edges. Add Italian sausage in small crumbles and brown for about six minutes. When Italian sausage is nicely brown add garlic and fresh rosemary then cook for another two minutes. Slowly mix in the spinach until it is well incorporated and has wilted.

Cook pasta to al dente' and reserve up to four cups of pasta water before draining. Return pasta to the large pot and add two cans of cannellini beans with their juice. Stir a small amount of pasta water in the cans to capture all of the juice and add to pasta. Add the sausage, onion and spinach mixture to pasta. Deglaze the frying pan with some pasta water and then add to pasta. Add one cup of pasta water at a time until a nice sauce has been created.

Ladle into pasta bowls, top with grated parmesan cheese and drizzle lemon olive oil on top. Serve with white wine and a big piece of crusty bread!