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recipe: colorful penne

January 14, 2011

Sorry, folks. I, Michelle, of sound mind and body, do hereby declare that I’m obsessed with goat cheese AND smoked sun-dried tomatoes.

Because of said obsession (and the need to use up fresh ingredients in my fridge), welcome to another dish that incorporates . . . what else? Goat cheese and smoked sun-dried tomatoes.

As a former self-professed vegetable hater, I try to eat fruits and vegetables in my diet as often as I can. Granted, 90% of me wants to eat fried chicken and collard greens all the time, but we know that can’t happen. So, to infuse my body with healthy goodness, here’s another recipe that I hope you’ll enjoy!


  • 1/2 a box whole wheat penne
  • baby spinach (de-stemmed)
  • 2 turkey Italian sausages (removed from its casings)
  • 1 “bunch” asparagus (probably 10-15 separate stalks)
  • olive oil
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
  • 6-8 whole pieces of smoked sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4.

(Disclaimer: I was cooking multiple things at one time, so feel free to change up the order on how you make everything.)

1. Crumble and brown sausage in a small pan, removing excess grease (never pour grease down the drain! I put mine in a jar that lives under the sink). After sausage is cooked, turn up the heat just a bit to really brown the sausage (if not, it will look pale). After desired brown-ness is done, set sausage aside.

2. Cook penne according to pasta box directions. Then set aside penne in a serving bowl.

3. While water is boiling for the pasta, heat oven to 400 degrees F. Use 1 tbsp of olive oil and spread it on a baking sheet with sides. Rinse asparagus and break off the hard parts at the bottom of each stalk. Dry the asparagus and put on the baking sheet. Roll stalks around so they get covered in the olive oil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, then cool enough so you can chop each stalk in half-inch pieces, then set aside.

4. Then, mix the goat cheese in the penne, add the sausage, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. (Your bowl will probably overflowing like mine so take care when mixing, so you don’t have vegetables flying all over the place! I’m not saying this happened to me and I’m not saying it didn’t.)

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(Yep. That’s garlic bread you see on my plate. I know, I know, that’s a lot of carbs. But hey, I’m a runner and I need to carb-load! Even if my next long run was two days away.)

On another but related note, this is why it helps me to plan 2-3 meals in a row that will use some (if not all) of the same ingredients. We ate pizza the other night that had spinach, goat cheese, pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. For this penne dish, I used the leftover spinach, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, plus frozen turkey sausage (leftover from when I made spaghetti). It works for me!

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