The Meal Planner

While I don't post recipes in this space as often as I'd like, you can be sure that when I do I'm not giving you recipes I've cooked only once then posted, but ones that I've cooked for my family many, MANY times.  I find myself cooking these recipes over and over again because they are easy, ingredients I have on hand, economical and taste FANTASTIC.  This pasta dish is definitely one of those recipes.

I found this one in last year's March edition of Everyday Food.  The day it came in the mail, I immediately salivated over this sausage pasta on the cover and realized I had all the ingredients to make it that night.  My husband and kids raved and I couldn't stop myself from seconds.  Since then I've made it countless times, always using whatever I have on hand. For pasta, penne, rotini, rigatoni and orrechetti all work, and the mild Italian sausage can be swapped for hot Italian sausage (my fave!) or chicken or turkey Italian sausage (which also works great).  If you don't have broccoli, I think kale would work very well in its place, although in that case, I wouldn't add it to the pasta water but chop it up and saute it with the sausage for a couple minutes.  I have successfully done that with a bag of baby spinach, although broccoli is my kids favorite.  An easy, tasty meal in one!

Recipe from Everyday Food: March 2012

Serves 6

 Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound rotini
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tbsp lemon juice
4 anchovy fillets, minced or 2 tsp anchovy paste (this is what I use)
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed*
Parmesan, grated, for serving

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. In last 2 minutes of cooking, add broccoli and cook until bright green and crisp-tender.

While the pasta is boiling, add sausage to a large frying pan and cook over medium-high, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, anchovies or anchovy paste, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Drain the pasta and broccoli and reserve 1 cup pasta water. Return pasta and broccoli to pot, along with the cooked sausage and add oil mixture. Toss well to combine, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

*You can easily substitute hot Italian sausage or chicken or turkey italian sausage for less fat/calories.


There are SO many things for me to love about this pasta dish.  The lemon/garlic/anchovy oil is a blast of flavor that combined with the sausage is out-of-this-world good.  Sometimes I even add a bit extra lemon because I love it so much.  If you feel scared off by the anchovy, don't be!  It really is a key component to the flavors of this dish.  You won't taste anything fishy, just salty umami flavors.  I never have anchovy fillets on hand, but I do keep a tube of anchovy paste in the fridge.  It's milder in flavor than the fillets and can be used anytime you make a homemade ceasar dressing, or you want to add an extra oomph to your pasta sauce.  

Another thing I love about this is it's a complete meal all on its own.  I never fiddle around with making a side salad because there's so much broccoli in each bowl.  A serving of this is just under 500 calories and could be even less if you swapped the sausage for chicken or turkey Italian sausage.  

Try it!  I hope you love it as much as me and my family do.

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3 Responses
  1. I love this recipe! I have also made it with turkey bacon, but the sausage is the best!

  2. Pasta is my all time favorite food… but always I go ahead with the same recipes thanks to you I got an opportunity to taste it in a different way… this is really helpful.

  3. Looks so delicious and it makes me so hungry, can’t wait until I try this.