Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Recipe for Penne Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, and Spinach

I love this Penne Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, and Spinach. (You can make this or any pasta dish lower in carbs by using less pasta and more vegetables and meat.)

Penne Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, and Spinach found on

(Updated with better photos and thoughts about Dreamfields Pasta, May 2014.)   I first made this Penne Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, and Spinach back in 2010, and when I found out it was World Pasta Day I posted the recipe right away, even though I didn't like the original photos much at all.  Now my photo skills have definitely improved and it wasn't a hardship at all to make this again to get better photos.  Scroll down to the bottom of the step-by-step pictures to see the original photo that still makes me wince a bit when I think about it being on the blog all those years. 

Before I get to the recipe I want to say a little about the controversy surrounding Dreamfields Pasta.  I hadn't heard that Dreamfields had been forced to remove the low-carb label from it's packaging until someone on the Kalyns Kitchen Facebook page told me about the lawsuit, and when I googled for more information, the more I read the more confused I got.  All around the web I found individuals reporting they had used it with good results, and the America Diabetes Association had tested it and found it didn't spike blood sugar as much as regular pasta when used according to directions to cook al denta and not reheat the pasta.  But just as many sites pointed out other studies that didn't confirm the low-carb claims Dreamfields had made, and they did settle the lawsuit and agreed to remove the words 'low carb' from their packaging for one year.

After a lot of reading I've decided for my own use I'm going to go with my personal experience with Dreamfields, which is that when I have cooked it according to directions (and avoided reheating) it has never caused me to gain weight.  If you need to limit your carb consumption for medical reasons, I urge you to start googling and draw your own conclusions.  And if you're eating Dreamfields for the South Beach Diet, you might want to switch to whole grain pasta, which is approved by the diet.  Another good trick is to use far less pasta than a recipe calls for so there's a greater amount of low-glycemic vegetables and meats in proportion to pasta.  (I probably would have done that with this recipe if I'd read about Dreamfields before I made it.)

I crisped the spinach in cold water at the same time I started the pasta water cooking. (You may not need to do this if your spinach is fresh and already washed!)

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until just barely al-dente (exactly 9 minutes for Dreamfield's pasta, but check the package for cooking time if you're using something else.)

Wash the mushrooms and cut into thickish slices.  I used brown Baby Bella (Crimini) mushrooms.

I used Hot Turkey Italian Sausage, so I browned it to cook the sausage, then sliced it and browned the slices again. (You could also use precooked chicken or turkey sausage.)

After you remove sausages from the pan, add a bit more oil and saute the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, until they are starting to release their liquid.  

Then add the red onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes and saute about 5-6 minutes more, until mushrooms are lightly browned and onions are cooked.

Put sausage back into the pan, add the chicken stock and simmer 2-3 minutes, or until sausage is hot.

Then add the spinach all at once, tossing with the hot sausages, mushrooms, and onions until the spinach wilts.

You'll only need about 2-3 minutes until the spinach has wilted into the dish.

Add the pasta and heat for a minute or two.

Then add both kinds of cheese and toss until the cheese melts and coats the pasta, about 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve.

And as promised, here's the original blurry and cringe-inducing photo of this recipe from 2010!

Penne Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, and Spinach
(Makes 4-6 servings, original recipe by Russel Ito and featured in Bon Appetit October 1998.

3 links (3/4 pound) hot turkey Italian sausage (or use pre-cooked chicken or turkey sausage of your choice)
2-3 T olive oil (depending on the pan and whether you use pre-cooked sausage)
3/4 lb. thickly sliced mushrooms, or more (I used brown Crimini mushrooms)
1/2 red onion, cut into thin slivers
5 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
10 oz. baby spinach leaves (or more)
1 1/4 cup chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock, but you can use canned chicken broth)
1/2 lb. (2 cups dry) penne pasta (use whole wheat penne or Dreamfields for the South Beach Diet; you can also make this lower in carbs by reducing the amount of pasta)
1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus a little more for serving if desired)
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Fill a medium-sized pot with water, add a generous amount of salt and bring to a boil to cook the pasta. Wash spinach if needed and spin dry or dry with paper towels.

If using raw turkey Italian sausage like I did, heat about 2 tsp. olive oil in large heavy skillet, add sausages and cook until they are firm and well browned. Let sausage cool, then slice in rounds and brown again, adding a bit more oil if needed. (If you use pre-cooked turkey or chicken sausage, just slice and brown the sausage.)

As soon as pasta water boils, add the pasta, stir, reduce heat to a low boil and cook just until pasta is al-dente. This was exactly 9 minutes for the Dreamfield's pasta I used, but check package for cooking time. Drain cooked pasta in a colander placed in the sink.

While pasta cooks slice mushrooms and red onions and mince garlic. Remove browned sausage to a bowl, add a little more oil to the pan and add mushrooms, cooking 3-4 minutes or until they start to release liquid. Add the red onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook about 5-6 minutes more, or until mushrooms are lightly browned and onions are cooked.

Put sausage back into the pan with the mushrooms and onions, add the stock and cook 2-3 minutes, or until the sausage is hot. Then add the spinach all at once, tossing with the hot mushrooms-sausage mixture until the spinach wilts, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the drained pasta and heat for a minute or two.  Then add both kinds of cheese and toss until the cheese melts and coats the pasta, about 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve hot, with more Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on at the table if desired.

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South Beach Suggestions:
If you're making this for the South Beach Diet, they recommend whole wheat penne, low-fat mozzarella, and low-fat turkey or chicken sausage. With those cautions, this recipe would be suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.  You can also use less pasta and more of the lower-glycemic ingredients if you want to make this as diet-friendly as possible.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Pasta Dishes with Sausage:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.  For any of these dishes you can make it more diet-friendly for South Beach by using less pasta and more vegetables and meat.)

Baked Whole Wheat Spaghetti Casserole with Turkey Italian Sausage and Mozzarella ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Whole Wheat Penne Pasta with Sausage, Fennel, Tomato, and Olives ~ The Perfect Pantry

Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Kale, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Spagetti with Italian Sausage and Arugula ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Turkey Sausage and Asparagus Pasta ~ The Lemon Bowl
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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More to Chew On:


  1. Oh, yes, this is my kind of pasta dish! Dreamfield's has really made it possible for me to enjoy pasta, and I'm so glad I learned about it right here on Kalyn's Kitchen.

  2. Thanks Lydia. It was tasty, even if the photo is rather dreadful. And I do love that Dreamfields!

  3. This sounds good for all the rainy weather we've been having!

  4. It was definitely comfort food!

  5. One of my favorite recipes is Penne & Sausage in Bourbon Cream Sauce. I first take sausage out of casing and saute. The sauce, of course, is the secret:

    heat heavy cream
    mix in some tomato paste
    add parmesan cheese
    add brandy to taste

    Mix all together and enjoy!

  6. what a colourful pasta! it looks really delicious!

  7. Pasta always looks delicious to me so I wouldn't worry too much about it! Love the sausage in has to be one of my favorite pasta additions!

  8. Ooooh, looks delicious and I LOVE your new header image for fall :D

  9. What do you mean? I think the pasta in this photo looks reealllllyyyy good! It's only 7:00 am and I want to eat that right now! :)

  10. My first comment on your great blog! I really like it and enjoy reading it regularly... Concerning this recipe - I thought it is not recommended to re-heat spinach as it becomes toxic that way... Or is my information incorrect?

  11. Hey, man food! Can't wait to make it for my husband. He's doing so well on SB. --Cindy

  12. Tom, I'm sure that's delicious (but heavy cream and brandy would make it not really suitable for the South Beach Diet in case anyone is wondering!)

    LimeCake, thank you; glad it appeals to you.

    Joanne, glad you think it doesn't look too bad, lol!

    Beth, thanks. My talented brother Rand does the headers.

    Debbie, you are too kind. This is definitely not one of my best photos, but I'm glad it's not too bad.

    Natasa, that is a myth about reheating spinach. If you google it you can find confirmation that it's safe in many places on the internet. It should not be repeated reheated, but saving it once and reheating is fine. (I've done it hundreds of times in my life, no problems.)

    Cindy, great! Hope he will enjoy it. Good news about his success on the diet.

  13. I love penne pasta with sausage! Thank you a million for creating a SB-friendly version. The spinach will be wonderful. By the way, I used to make a dish with egg, mushrooms, spinach, ground beef and garlic. It was all done in on the stove-top. If you have a recipe for that, I'd love to see it. I can't seem to get the cooking sequence down anymore.

  14. Carol, glad you like this, thanks. Sorry but I can't think of a recipe I've seen for a dish like you're describing.

  15. If I ever move back to the city, I'm buying a house on your block so we can be neighbors and you can feed me. This is definitely my kind of recipe - just like so many of your others. We really do have similar taste in food, only you cook (and blog) a lot more often than I do! ;)

  16. Susan, I will definitely feed you if you move in next door. Promise!

  17. This is dinner tonight! Thanks, K!

  18. Garrett, great! So glad you like it despite the homely photo!

  19. Some of my favorite recipes turned out to have not-so-great photos as well . . . but your dish looks delicious to me anyway! Brandy and cream--yes!!

  20. . . . I should clarify I was talking about the brandy and cream in Tom Colvin's comment, sorry. =) The original recipe sounds awesome too. I simply adore mushrooms and spinach.

  21. Jenna, no worries! And yes, I'm sure the pasta with sausage, brandy, and cream would taste amazing. I just didn't want anyone to be misled thinking I was implying it was okay for the diet.

  22. I think the pictures look great. They make me want to eat it anyway, that's what counts.

  23. Corina, thank you! My readers are so sweet. And I'm probably too critical of myself as well. I really appreciate knowing you'd love to eat it!

  24. I tried this tonight and it was very good, and I had a side of sauteed yellow squash, al-dente. I think you could forget using any pasta at all and just use the squash as it had a similar color and not an overpowering taste. The flavor is coming mostly from the delicious turkey sausage. Calories and carbs would be much lower. Steve

  25. Sounds like a nice idea to make this with squash, or maybe sub some of the pasta for sausage.

  26. Pastas are my weakness. They always tend to taste so good and often go well with any dressing. Gosh, I love it!

  27. kitchenessentials.comOctober 27, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    As they say pictures are worth a thousand words, your dish was great and I enjoy your website very much. Thanks!

  28. It sure looks fantastic to me, Kalyn. :-) So many colors and flavors ... great for this time of year!


  29. You guys are just being too kind about the photo. Just as long as you think it looks good to eat, I guess that's all that really matters!

  30. I made this last night with a spicy chicken and mango sausage and it was AMAZING!!! My husband said it was the best pasta he ever had...EVER!!!

  31. Betsy, wow! Tell him thanks for that.

  32. We're at the end of a vacation and I had a conglomerate of ingredients left to use up-this was perfect! Thanks for the recipe.

  33. I never heard of the controversy surrounding Dreamfields pasta - I made it for a friend who is diabetic and he loved it. This sounds like a nice hearty pasta dish!

  34. Jeanette, I really don't know what to think about it. There are many people online who say it doesn't spike their blood pressure, and yet they settled the lawsuit. But I plan to keep using it.

  35. Oh Honey, I think you're too hard on yourself.
    I love your blog and your photos make my mouth water :)

  36. Thanks Mary, and you're probably right!

  37. Just made this for dinner, of course mine didn't look nearly as wonderful as yours! But it sure tasted great! I used whole wheat penne and added yellow squash. My DH acted as my sous chef (my RA is killing me) and he commented on how easy it was and then how much he loved it! :) thanks for another great recipe!

  38. Susan, I'm glad your sous chef helped you get dinner reader, hang in there. And I love the idea of adding squash!

  39. I have started blogging in 2006 and when I look back at my pictures I can't look at them :) Sometimes I do make the dish again and take new pictures. What a difference in makes.

    Your pasta dish looks really yum!


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