Sausage, Zucchini, and Penne ~ An almost one pot delicious meal of sausage, zucchini, white beans, tomatoes, and penne tossed in creamy parmesan sauce.My brother and his lovely wife have lived in Boise for a few years now and I have not made the trek, one that turned out to be much shorter than I initially thought, to visit them. When the opportunity arose for me to go to Phoenix, I needed someone to watch Elizabeth.
My sister Jennifer and dear friend Darla have been my go-to help. But Darla was out of town and I had just burdened my sister with my kid when I went to Italy; it would have been most unfair to ask her to watch her again a mere 10 days later. I was grateful Joseph and Lindsay were willing to have her come to stay. I was eager for her to get to know her cousins better as well, as Addison is only 19 months younger than Elizabeth.
We arrived a couple of days before I departed to Phoenix to just hang out. It was great to see them, particularly my niece and nephew. My SIL Lindsay was very kind (and possibly quite happy) to relinquish her kitchen to me to make dinner. She had gone out to water her garden and when she returned she had 4 exquisite looking zucchini. Zucchini is one of my favorite veggies (green beans, cabbage, and brussels sprouts being my other favorites).
Thinking about what I could make with them, ideas started swirling about like they do in my head and eventually this is where I arrived. Tomatoes were not part of the original plan. But after the dish was constructed, it tasted great, but I felt it was missing something. Turns out it was the bit of acid and sweetness that tomatoes bring.
For me, whenever I make a new pasta dish, it has to go through a test before I deem it ready to publish. That test is titled “eaten cold, straight out of the fridge, and it still tastes good test.” Yes, it’s a mouthful title, but if it tastes great cold, then I know the dish is 100% a keeper. Oh, my brother gave it the same test and it passed for him too.
- 1 lb penne or like pasta
- 1 lb italian sausage; hot or mild
- 1-15 oz can white beans; drained and rinsed
- 1 small onion; diced
- 1 large, 2 small zucchini; quarter sliced and seeds removed
- 3 medium garlic cloves; minced/grated
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil/butter
- ⅛ tsp salt/pepper; to taste
- 1-14.5 oz can petite tomatoes
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1½ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup half/half
- ½ cup parmesan cheese; grated finely
- ¼ tsp ground thyme
- ⅛ tsp salt/pepper; to taste
- ½ cup pasta water; +/1 (best to pull out at least a cup of the water)
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, to al dente; DO NOT OVERCOOK PASTA.
- Reserve 1 cup of the water for making the sauce. Drain the pasta once cooked.
- In a large pan, cook the Italian sausage, if using links, remove from casings.
- Once the sausage has cooked, drain the renderings and set aside.
- In the same pan as the sausage was cooked, sauté the onions for 3 minutes on medium high or until they begin to soften.
- Add the garlic and the zucchini, cook for another 3-5 minutes or until all are fork tender.
- Remove the veggies from the pan and add the to sausage; toss together.
- Pour the drained/rinsed beans into the sausage and veggies and mix GENTLY together; set aside.
- In the same pan as the add the butter and melt, whisk in flour until smooth and will become the consistency of paste.
- Slowly pour in the chicken broth and whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in the parmesan cheese; the sauce will thicken.
- Add the cream, thyme, and salt/pepper; whisk until well combined.
- Slowly add the pasta water until the sauce is smooth and thinned to a desired consistency.
- In the pasta pot, combing the pasta, sausage-veggies mix, and sauce; stir well.
- Add the canned tomatoes, undrained to the mixture.
- Serve immediately, top freshly grated parmesan cheese.