As National Pasta Month draws to a close, I wanted to post a recipe that my wife made for me the first time she cooked me dinner. It was almost 30 years ago while we were just starting to date. The recipe itself is a good one and has become a family favorite over the years. But the real reason I wanted to post this particular recipe was to point out that you can put just about anything on pasta (or pizza). The list of now-accepted pizza toppings include Pineapple, Buffalo Chicken, Kale, literally any cheese, sweet & savory combinations, etc. Pasta is no different. Pasta Primavera has become “clean out the fridge” pasta. This recipe illustrates the point that you can put just about anything on pasta.
With that as a backdrop, please enjoy the following pasta dish, made for me by my wife in 1990 with a recipe she got from her older brother, Donald.
Pasta with White Beans, Sausage and Mustard Greens
- 1 box medium shells (penne works well with this dish also)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb sausage (I use Jimmy Dean’s sausage roll, but any flavored pork (or turkey) sausage will do just fine)
- 1 lb. Frozen mustard greens (you can substitute fresh collard or Mustard greens, but frozen is much simpler). Substituting Spinach is not suggested, as it really does not have a lot of taste, compared to the bitter greens
- 1 15.5 oz can cannellini beans, drained
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- Garlic salt (optional, for taste)
- Defrost the frozen mustard greens and remove as much moisture as possible. If the sausage is frozen, defrost that also.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, in salted boiling water, until just al dente. Drain and return to pan. Toss with 1 tbsp of Olive oil to stop the pasta from sticking together.
- Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the room temperature sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Break up any larger pieces with a wooden spoon.
- Add greens to the sausage; Cook 1 to 2 minutes, uncovered, until greens are just crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.
- Add cooked pasta to the skillet, toss to coat.
- Add the cannellini beans and fold into the sausage and greens mixture. As you are folding the mixture together, the pasta with continue to absorb some of the liquid that is in the skillet.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Most sausage will have a decent amount of spices already. Red Pepper flakes and/or garlic salt can be added if desired.
- Top with grated Parmesan cheese.