Chicken Sausage & Vegetable Pasta with Walnut Basil Pesto

I love pasta because it's so versatile, making it perfect when you're trying to use up produce and other ingredients in the fridge AND want leftovers for the following days (since it tends to store well). I also love pesto for it's own versatility - it's essentially a combination of greens/herbs, oil, nuts/seeds, cheese (if you like), and seasonings - so you can use whatever combination of those ingredients you have on hand.

I try to include walnuts into a few meals or snacks each week because I love the nutrient profile, and this was part of the inspiration for this pesto. Some of the nutrients found in walnuts (along with their benefits) are listed below:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body, can improve insulin sensitivity, and contributes to brain health
  • Vitamin B6 aids in immune function, red blood cell formation, and prevention of heart disease
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant that aids in immune function and prevents heart disease and macular degeneration
  • Biotin aids in mood regulation and hair and skin health
  • Copper aids in heart health and iron absorption and maintains bone, nerve, and immune function
  • Magnesium aids in muscle and nerve function, bone strength, and the body's use of many vitamins and minerals
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Chicken Sausage & Vegetable Pasta with Walnut Basil Pesto
Ingredients
  • 2 large bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 large white onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • 2 Tbsp avocado or olive oil
  • 1/2 lb penne pasta
  • 1 lb chicken sausage
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup avocado or olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper, or to taste
Instructions
1. Turn oven on to 400°F; turn a burner on high, fill a medium to large pot with 2 quarts of water, cover with lid, and place on burner to boil; turn a second burner on medium-low and place a skillet on burner to heat.2. Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook per instructions on the box, or for approximately 8-12 minutes, depending on the type of pasta. Drain when finished, turn off burner, and set pot aside to combine pasta later.3. Chop all vegetables into approximately 1-inch pieces, toss in avocado or olive oil, and add to large sheet pan. Place in pre-heated oven and cook for about 15 minutes or until edges start to brown and the vegetables are slightly tender, stirring once after 8 minutes.4. While the vegetables are in the oven, add sausage to pre-heated skillet and cook for about 6 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 6 minutes, or until the 2 sides are lightly seared. Once finished, either place the skillet in the oven (if oven-safe) or place the sausage on a sheet pan in the oven to finish cooking. Cook the sausage for about 15 more minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 160°F.5. While the sausage is cooking on the skillet and in the oven, you can make the pesto. First, add basil, walnuts, and oil to a blender or food processor and pulse until ingredients begin to combine; then blend continuously for about 20 seconds. Scrape the sides with a spatula.6. Next, add garlic, salt, pepper, and Parmesan; place lid back on; and blend for another 20-40 seconds, or until pesto is desired consistency. If the pesto is too thick, you can add water to thin the consistency - add 1 tablespoon at a time until consistency is perfect!7. When sausage is finished cooking, remove from the oven, place on cutting board, and slice into 1/4-inch pieces (or larger if you prefer).8. Add pasta, vegetables, and sausage to the pan the pasta was cooked in (or a large bowl), then add pesto and use a spatula or spoon to combine and incorporate pesto throughout.9. Serve pasta in a bowl and top with grated Parmesan!
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings
Collette SinnottComment