I wish I could tell you that, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I subsist on a diet consisting only of sweet potato casseroles, honey baked hams, and the occasional figgy pudding. That’d be festive, right?
What with all the holiday themed posts out there right now, you’d think those types of foods were the only ones gracing we bloggers’ tables right now.
But let’s be real. Even during the holiday season, I’ve gotta feed myself. And as much as I wish that I could make breakfast, lunch, and dinner out of the cookies that are literally spilling out of Tupperwares in my kitchen…yeah, that’s probably not the best idea.
This recipe is neither a Christmas cookie nor a crafty gift idea. It is, however, warm, comforting, and–dare I say it?–even a tad healthy. I understand you’re probably buried under ribbons and bows, horrifically behind on your card writing, or trying to single-handedly feed your entire block (perhaps even all of the above), but file this one away for when the holiday dust settles–I promise it’s worth it. And it makes great leftovers!
Adapted from Food.com
- 1 16-oz. box whole wheat rotini
- 1 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 package (6 links) chicken sausage, sliced into quarter-inch-thick rounds (*I used the pre-cooked kind, so I only had to brown my sausage–make sure yours is cooked through if need be)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 28-oz can tomato sauce (I used the sweet Italian sausage and mushroom variety for some added flavor)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown sausage, adding oil to pan as necessary to prevent sticking.
3. Drain off any extra oil or accumulated fat, then add minced garlic. Contain to cook until fragrant (but not burned!).
4. Stir in tomato sauce and oregano, then bring mixture to a simmer. Cover and allow the sauce and sausage to continue cooking for 15 minutes.
5. While the sauce is a-simmering, bring a large pot (2-3 quart stockpot) of salted water to a boil. Cook rotini until just al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot, then stir spinach into cooked pasta until combined.
6. Transfer pasta and spinach into a 13×9 glass baking dish and pour sausage-sauce mixture over it. Mix well with a wooden spoon to make sure that sauce is evenly distributed throughout the pan.
7. Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheeses over the top of the pasta dish until coated to your liking. Cover entire dish with nonstick foil.
8. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, then remove foil and allow to cook for another 10 minutes until cheese begins to brown on top.
As I mentioned above, this meal makes great leftovers–I actually think that the servings I froze and reheated might have been better than they were right out of the oven!
Bake this up and stick it in your freezer, and when your Christmas tree starts shedding needles all over your living room, or your in-laws still won’t leave, heat up a bowl of this cheesy baked pasta and dig right in. It’ll take away the wintry chill and it has whole grains and greens.
I hope you and your loved ones are enjoying the holiday season with whatever traditions you may have! I personally can’t wait to head to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve to bake an absurd amount of Christmas thumbprint cookies with my younger sisters (most of which will promptly be devoured by the three of us without ever reaching Santa’s plate). But my favorite tradition of all has to be squishing on the couch to read T’was the Night Before Christmas (even though we’re all grown up now)–my mom earnestly reading aloud…while my dad hams it up behind her and makes fun of the old-fashioned poem. All five of us are always in stitches by the end of the book.