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Spinach Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Kosher salt
10 ounces mezzi rigatoni
4 cups baby spinach (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons pine nuts, chopped almonds or walnuts
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus the juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
2 sweet Italian chicken sausage links (3 ounces each), casings removed
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain. Meanwhile, pulse 2 cups spinach, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon each olive oil and nuts, the lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth. Scrape down the sides; add the parmesan and pulse until smooth. Set the pesto aside. Form the sausage into nickel-size patties, about 1/2 inch thick. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Flip, add the garlic to the skillet and cook until the patties are just cooked through, about 2 more minutes. Add the pasta, pesto and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water to the skillet. Toss to coat, adding more cooking water as needed; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining 2 cups spinach. Top with parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon nuts; drizzle with olive oil. Photograph by Charles Masters

Source: www.foodnetwork.com