cheesy sausage, veggie and pasta skillet

Okay, I admit it. I loooove the new Velveeta cheesy skillet commercials. They are hilarious, and I've found myself proclaiming, "Liquid gooooold!" to anyone who will tolerate me. Not a lot of people.

But while I love the commercials, I have to admit that it's been a really long time since I've had Velveeta. Let's just say that I have too much respect for good cheeses. And maybe it's also because Velveeta isn't actually cheese. Rather, it's a pasteurized process cheese spread. Hmmm.

I'm not going to lie, I did a little research about what Velveeta actually is. It's a pretty complicated product to try to understand, much less explain, so I'm not even going to try. (But if you want to check it out, this was a pretty good site.) This in and of itself makes me nervous.

My point is, I wanted to find an alternative to the easy and quick, one-pot meal. One that packed a punch of flavor with lots of veggies and whole grains. Found it! This one came together in about 30 minutes, using one pot filled with whole-grain pasta, spinach, tomatoes and more. And the sausage can be lean chicken or turkey varieties and no one would be the wiser. Now, that's my kind of cheesy skillet. Enjoy!

Cheesy Sausage, Veggie and Pasta Skillet
  • 1 lb. lean Italian turkey sausage, ground
  • 1 small onion (or 1/2 large), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained 
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds 
  • 1-1/4 cups hot water
  • 8 oz dry whole-grain bowtie pasta, uncooked
  • 6 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • Handful fresh, chopped basil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crushed red pepper, optional
  1. Brown sausage over medium heat with a little olive oil. Remove from pan and drain off any fat. Add onion, garlic and green pepper to pan with a little more olive oil until soft. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Add sausage back to pan with sauteed veggies, tomatoes, sauce, fennel seeds and water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer 15 minutes. (Make a salad to go with it!)
  3. Stir pasta well to make sure all the noodles are evenly cooked. Add spinach, most of the Parmesan (reserve a tablespoon or two for topping), basil and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately, topped with a little basil and cheese.

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