When the weather starts to turn chilly, my dinnertime cravings go from big salads to warm, comforting pastas - and I love a good, chunky pasta made with sausage and hardy greens. This dish is brightened with lemon and studded with crunchy toasted walnuts - what a brilliant addition to pasta, don't you think? I love the crunch of toasted walnuts, and it's a great added dose of fibre, protein and heart-healthy fats. Of course the whole comforting bowlful is wonderful topped with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.
Although it's made with rigatoni, any fork-friendly pasta will work - try penne, rotini or bow ties.
Rustic Walnut Rapini Pasta
This hearty, flavourful dish is the perfect comfort food for a crisp fall day. The Italian sausage, combined with the savoury blend of garlic, onion and lemon zest is perfectly topped with toasted California walnuts.
1/2 lb mild or hot Italian sausage meat, crumbled
1 red onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup California walnut halves, toasted
1/2 lb rigatoni
1 bunch rapini, roughly chopped (about 6 cups/1.5 L)
grated zest of a lemon
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
In large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast walnuts, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown, about 1 to 2 minutes.
In large, heavy skillet, brown sausage meat over medium-high heat, breaking up pieces with the back of a spoon. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the walnuts.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Add rapini during the last minute of cooking. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water when you drain tha pasta and rapini in a colander.
Add the pasta and rapini to the sausage mixture, and add the lemon zest and Parmesan. Toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water to help loosen it up.
Serve immediately, passing additional Parmesan cheese at the table.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: about 680 cal, 30 g pro, 39 g fat (10 g sat. fat), 55 g carb, 4 g fibre, 55 mg chol,
700 mg sodium. %RDI: 30% calcium, 25% iron, 150% vit A, 180% Vit C. 40% folate.