Simple Supper: Penne Pasta w/ Italian Sausage [and a few surprise ingredients]

Recently, I listened to a podcast with the Meal Makeover Moms, who interviewed Karen Le Billion, author of French Kids Eat Everything: How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacking, and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eatersIf you have a few minutes, check out podcast 195. [CLICK ON LINK]

I was fascinated by the premise of the book (and podcast). It’s not about telling our kids what they can/can’t eat. Or forcing them to clean their plates (so NOT a fan of that). Rather, it’s about helping our children to discover and enjoy a wide variety of foods, even dark chocolate. So, hey, who can complain about that?

The  recipe I am sharing was born out of the desire to stretch my kids’ taste buds, which happens frequently in our home, and to use ingredients I had on hand! 🙂 Typically, my kids are not fans of Gorgonzola cheese, even though I’ve served it in a variety of ways from salads to pizza to pairing with seasonal fruit slices. Yet, I’ve encouraged them to try foods often because taste buds change. After which, it’s not uncommon for them to declare, “I like this now, Mom!” Plus, in our home, we expect them to eat whatever is served. Still, I wasn’t so sure about the Gorgonzola cheese or the massive amounts of semi-caramelized onions.

Recently, I’ve begun to encourage the kids to guess what the secret ingredients are in the dishes I prepare for dinner. On this particular evening, when I asked the question, Jadon promptly responded, “Onions! They are so sweet, too!” I said, “Did you taste the white, creamy cheese? It’s a bit sharp and salty. Quiet different than the sweet onions, isn’t it?” I told them it was, in fact, Gorgonzola cheese.

With baited breath, I wondered what the next response would be. To be honest, I was prepared for the kids to begrudgingly swallow the food and/or for one particular child to start the “Whine Fest”. But neither occurred. Instead, bite after bite went from plate to mouth, followed by “Hmmm! Hmmm! This is good, Mommy! Will you make it again?” Then, both kids went back for seconds,  and asked if they could have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Even though, we have our share of failed attempts, this was a success and I’ll definitely keep this dish in our rotation!


  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • 1 package of Italian sausage, in casings, cut in 1 inch rounds (I used Turkey Italian Sausage)
  • 1/4 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lb of whole wheat penne
  • 1 jar of Alfredo sauce (or make your own)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 t of Italian Seasonings
  • 1 t of Onion Powder
  • 1 t Red Pepper Flakes
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach
  • 4 oz  of Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, melt olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Turn heat down to medium, add onions and cook until golden brown, aprx. 10-15 minutes. Add  sun-dried tomatoes Italian sausage and garlic, making sure to stir and not burn. Cook until Italian sausage is just browned. Add water, Alfredo sauce,  pasta, Italian seasonings, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Stirring to combine. Allow mixture to come to a boil. Then, turn down to low. Cover skillet and allow to cook until pasta is al dente, aprx. 8-10 minutes. (The liquid from the sauce and water cook the pasta without having to drain anything.) After pasta is cooked and liquid has been absorbed, stir in Gorgonzola cheese, pine nuts and spinach. (The spinach will wilt/cook from the heat of the dish.) Test the seasonings, add salt/pepper, as needed. Serve with a loaf of Artisan bread and a green salad!


One response to “Simple Supper: Penne Pasta w/ Italian Sausage [and a few surprise ingredients]

  1. Thanks for the shout-out for our podcast, Cooking with the Moms. This recipe sounds so delicious! When my kitchen renovation is complete this will be on my list of new recipes to try. Thanks!

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