pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini
for the pasta:
  • 1 pound rigatoni or your favorite pasta- you can also use a whole-wheat or whole grain pasta to boost up the nutritional value
  • 4 sweet italian sausages (about 1 pound), casings removed
  • 1-2 bunches broccolini or baby broccoli, tough ends trimmed
  • shredded pecorino romano cheese for topping the pasta
  • ¼ cup toasted and chopped walnuts for topping the pasta
  • walnut pesto (see recipe below)
for the walnut pesto:
  • ¼ cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Let's first prep all of the ingredients. Peel your garlic clove, wash and dry your basil leaves, wash and trim your broccolini and toast up the ½ cup walnuts. The recipe calls for ½ cup toasted walnuts, ¼ cup for the pesto and ¼ cup to top the pasta. My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan. Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool. Reserve ¼ cup of walnuts for the pesto and chop the rest of the walnuts, and then set aside. You will use these to top the pasta.
  2. Remove the sausages from their casing. All you have to do to remove the sausage from it’s casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage. You're going to literally push and tear it out of it’s casing. You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn’t matter. You can always remove the sausages from their casings ahead of time and reserve the sausage in a sealed glass container. I tend to do this earlier in the day, so when it comes time to make dinner, I have one less thing to do.
  3. Now its time to make the walnut pesto. Like I said earlier, you can make this pesto earlier in the day or even the day before.
  4. Combine the ¼ cup toasted walnuts, 2 cups basil, peeled garlic clove, and ¼ teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor.
  5. Process and while the motor is running, drizzle in the ½ cup olive oil to form the pesto; set aside. Note: If you don't have a large food processor and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the ½ cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away. Pour the pesto into a ramekin or small glass dish.
  6. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, while the water is heating up, you want to cook up your sausages. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned. Remove the browned sausage with a slotted spoon and place the sausage onto a paper towel lined plate.
  7. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccolini during the last minute of cooking time. Basically if your pasta says it will be done in 13 minutes, then set a timer for 12 minutes and then add the broccolini for the last minute of cooking time (making it a total of 13 minutes). I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time! How efficient! Drain both the pasta and broccolini together.
  8. Put the pasta and broccolini back into the pot and add in the cooked sausage and the pesto.
  9. Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top with some freshly grated pecorino romano cheese and chopped walnuts.
  10. This pasta tastes great leftover as all of the flavor combinations have had a change to mingle. My kids were not complaining when I served this up again the next night.
Recipe by Marin Mama Cooks at