It has been a while since I have had school age kids but I still remember the rush of getting kids to soccer, football, getting homework done, and getting a good meal on the table as quickly as possible. I mean if it wasn't for quick school night meals we would have all been eating at 10 PM!
There of course was always the problem of not only getting a meal on the table quickly, but trying to make it a balanced meal that the kids would eat. That can really be the tough part right? I used to be good at hiding the "good stuff". A wonderful way to do that is by making things like meatloaf and then grating up some zucchini, carrots, squash, etc. and mixing it in. You can freeze the meatloaf and then cook it on the night you want. But this is about those nights when you need/want to get meal from stove to table in under 30 minutes. For those nights I loved one pot meals. You have your protein, vegetable, and starch all together. Cook it all up and Bing Bam Boom dinner is served!!
This one has been a favorite in our house for quite some time. It is actually one of the dishes that got my kids to actually like broccoli. It is also a dish that, because it is so simple, you could have the kiddos in the kitchen helping out and still get it done quickly. I know I used to love it when my kids got into the kitchen with me, it just made it more about family and less about just trying to rush to get something on the table. I think that is why my kitchen is really the heart of my home and I love having the family with me while I cook, chopping, tasting, and talking about their day.
You can use many different type of pasta for this dish. I prefer the tube shaped pasta with lines like penne or rigatoni, but farfalle is a great one for little ones because it looks like little bow ties and if you are trying to distract them from the fact that they are eating broccoli this can do the job.
Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli
1 pound pasta (penne, rigatoni, farfalle, etc.)
1 pound bulk Italian sausage (can be bought in links and the casings removed)
2 heads of broccoli cut into bite sized florets
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
Cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested and the juice of one half reserved
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top
In a large pot of boiling salted water (pasta water should taste like the "ocean"), cook the pasta according to package instructions adding the broccoli florets to the pot for the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water and then drain.
While pasta is cooking have one of the kids whisk the 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and garlic together in a small bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the sausage, crumbling as you drop it into the skillet. Cook sausage until browned, stirring to break it up (although the kids liked chunky bites you can break it up as much as you like). Remove from the heat. Add pasta and broccoli to the pot. Toss with the oil mixture, using pasta water if needed to make a thin sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.