Monday, September 28, 2015

Weeknight Roasted Garlic and Chicken Sausage Pasta


On a normal day last week, the Hubster rushed to catch the train home and rescued our car from a parking lot that is 5.4 miles away from the train station and still costs more than parking in the train lot (which has space for 3.25 cars because you know, our city has only 3 people who commute to work everyday and the city planners actually did us a favor by allocating that extra 1/4 space for those days when it's particularly busy). He then picked up Little Lady, swung back around to pick me up, we all went to pick up Little Man, and we all came tumbling home. Along the way, the babies refused to eat the snacks I'd so carefully packed this morning, and remembered to bring to work, then bring back for this very journey. Instead, they politely voiced their concern about this never ending car ride. We finally made it home where we spent the next 19.5 minutes unloading the car of backpacks, lunch boxes, diaper bags, and half an old banana.

Our weekdays are a heavily synchronized dance of pickups and dropoffs, daycare and grandparent days, delayed trains, traffic jams, and road closures. By the time we hit dinner time, we are beat. I'm guessing you are too. Whether you work at home, have the best/worst commute ever, whether you work in a big office or a small one, or in your home, or on the road, that dinner time crunch is the worst.

And yet, every article I read and every picture I see tells me dinner time is meant to be magical. It's that perfect hour when families gather around a reclaimed wood farmhouse dining table lit by that faux antique West Elm chandelier, sit back in their industrial looking but obviously comfortable dining chairs and share stories of their day as they feast on a decadent homemade meal.

And yet, it never looks like that. Never. Dinner time at our house is that same highly synchronized dance where one person sings Thomas the Train songs while stealth feeding the babies broccoli while the other tries to catch that glass that's about to spill. The table still has yesterday's crumbs, and the light above the dining room table is an awful 1990's brass chandelier crying for a hearty coat of bronze spray paint and some DIY love.


There's not a homemade roast in sight, but it's also not a meal of frozen pizza (our standby solution for war, natural disasters, and worst of all, crabby babies). So #winning. Pasta, spinach, chicken sausage, and roasted garlic. Oh, and don't be afraid of making this dish with whatever you've got on hand. I'll often use frozen peas in place of spinach, or leftover chicken instead of the fancy pants parmesan chicken sausage that has my heart. But whatever you do, do not skip the roasted garlic! This dish comes together quickly and makes enough for two lunches the next day (unless it's been a particularly long day, in which case it makes enough for two hungry adults and 2 babies that don't eat much). It's a dish much like my other standby, Mexican Fried Rice, in that it's fast, relatively healthy and so good!

So for the mamas and babas who rush to and from work in time for family dinner, the grandmas and grandpas who help feed the clamoring crowds and my favorite folks eating in front of their laptops as they churn out one more cost report (or watch back episodes of Game of Thrones), this meal's for you. It covers all the main food groups and gives you the energy to do it all again tomorrow. Rock on warriors, rock on!

Roasted Garlic and Chicken Sausage Pasta
16 oz. dry pasta
4 chicken sausages
1 head garlic
1 bunch fresh spinach (or 1 bag frozen)
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Salt and Pepper

Heat oven to 425 degree. Slice off the top of your head of garlic so you can see the inside of the garlic cloves. Grab a large piece of foil, place your garlic in the middle, cover the garlic with oil and wrap tightly. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully unwrap over a large bowl. Pour out the oil in to the bowl and squeeze out the garlic cloves into the oil. Lightly mash the garlic cloves so you have a chunky garlic-oil mixture.

While the garlic is roasting, boil pasta until al dente. While pasta is boiling, chop sausage and wash spinach (if using fresh). Drain pasta.

In a separate pan, heat 1 tsp. of oil from the roasted garlic and brown the sausage. Remove from pan. Add 1 more tsp. of oil to the same pan and cook spinach until wilted. Add 3 tsps. of garlic oil, pasta, and sausage to the spinach and stir fry pasta until ingredients are mixed. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.

Serve hot, preferably with a ton of bread slathered with the extra garlic oil. If you have any garlic oil remaining (unlikely because um, bread), feel free to store in the fridge for your next round of pasta making. I also use it for stir fry and fried rice. 

15 comments:

  1. this is exactly the kind of dinner i eat on a weekdays!! which chicken sausage do you use? just wonderfing.

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    1. Hooray! I feel like the combo of pasta+meat+veggies solves pretty much every problem in life! I'm partial to the Saag's Chicken Parm (http://www.saags.com/pc/productPopup.asp?idProd=r155) but really, I'll eat of their other chicken flavors just as happily :)

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  2. That totally describes the dinner rush at our house too! Love this pasta, it's the perfect weeknight meal!

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    1. Oh my gosh, so glad to hear others are in the same chaotic, dinner time crazy boat!

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  3. Love the real talk! And so true. : ) I can only say that as the kids get older, you might have a bit more time and it does get a bit easier. That said, I only have one so maybe I have it pretty easy! : ) I think pasta is a true lifesaver and plus, it's always downright tasty and pleases everyone! Love your roasted garlic and chicken sausage version here. I love cooking with chicken sausage, too. I will need to try this! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Monica, it was a relief to read that it gets a bit easier when they're older. But I've heard other parents say it brings with it a new round of crazy (curfews, boyfriends, calculus, etc.) so I guess it keeps going :)

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  4. I think you do a pretty fabulous job of bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan. He He, I would happily have this for dinner. Having a hot meal period is a luxury after a long day, keep up the great work. Hope to catch up with you soon.
    -Gina-

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    1. Thanks friend, this was such a nice comment! And yes, I hope we get to hang out soon. I was thinking a Thanksgiving sides get together would be fun depending on if/when we do our cookie swap this year.

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  5. I love dinner recipes like these where the flavor is there but the time commitment isn't.

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  6. I love standby dinners like this that you can throw together with whatever is in the fridge. I work from home and my commute from my desk to the kitchen is 2.5 minutes, but between soccer practice, homework, and three very messy "roomates" (husband + 2 kids), I still feel the dinner hour crunch!

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    1. We don't have soccer and homework in the mix just yet but just thinking about that makes me tired! I plan on having lots of pasta to keep my energy levels up :)

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  7. That looks really delicious and simple which is important!

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    1. Right!? Some nights, I feel like simple trumps delicious but it's nice when you can have both :)

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  8. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I so wanna try cooking it! :)

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