This recipe was actually inspired by my father-in-law. My father-in-law is an amazing cook, and fortunately for me, my husband, Miguel, grew up cooking with his dad. Basically, their family is the reason I have grown to love food and cooking the way that I do.
Before I met Miguel, I was a very limited in what I would eat. I used to say I didn’t like certain foods before I had even tried it. My family still likes to give me a hard time that there was a good decade where all I would eat was chicken. Miguel reminds me that for our first date back in the day, I chose an “Italian” restaurant where they served gummy bears on the table when you sat down. I know. So needless to say, not very authentic Italian food.
But he started cooking for me, and not wanting to not seem like a wuss for my new boyfriend, I would try those things. And gradually it was like there was a whole new world before me, as completely cheesy as it sounds. I remember the first meal he made for me was grilled salmon and basil pesto, but he made the pesto himself. I distinctly remember thinking, “You can make pesto?” Jeez. But here I am, making pesto and coming up with my own recipes–mostly without chicken!
My father-in-law often used to make a similar recipe, though the details are a little fuzzy. It had a white bean purée, fresh rosemary and some sausage, the rest I improvised. I wanted to spend little to no time cooking dinner (It took me four hours in the afternoon to make my mom’s birthday cake–HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!), so this is what I came up with.
This recipe served the 2 of us comfortably, but Miguel eats more than any human being I have ever known, so it would probably feed 3 normal eating people.
- 1.5 lb brussels sprouts, halved
- 2 mild Italian sausages (I used Fra’Mani sausages because they are hormone free, blah blah blah)
- 1/2 lb. whole wheat fusili pasta (I have discovered Community Grains whole wheat pasta, which is the best whole wheat pasta I have tasted. The texture is almost like fresh pasta! It’s not cheap, but worth it.)
- 15 oz canned cannellini beans
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400˚. Put your halved brussels sprouts in a 13” x 9” baking dish, coat with about a tablespoon of olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper (Be careful not to add too much salt as sausages are already very salty.) Cut your Italian sausages into 1/2” pieces and add to the pan with the brussels sprouts. Put in the pre-heated oven and set to cook for about 20 minutes, or until the brussels spouts are golden brown.
While the brussels sprouts cook, fill a medium saucepan with water and set to boil. Cook whatever pasta you choose according to the directions on the package.
While the water boils, drain and rinse the cannellini beans, and put in a food processor along with the lemon zest and garlic. Turn on the food processor until a thick purée forms. With the motor running, drizzle in about 1/2 c. of extra virgin olive oil to thin out the mixture. Remove the fresh rosemary needles by pinching the thin end of the sprig, running your fingers towards the thicker end, pulling the needles down and off the sprig. Finely chop the rosemary. Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the rosemary until fragrant, about a minute or two, before adding the white bean purée and turning the heat to down to low just to warm up the bean purée before adding it to your pasta.
Drain the pasta, and place in a large bowl. Top with the roasted brussels sprouts and sausage. Add about 1 c. of the white bean purée, or more if you like your pasta a little creamier. (Any leftovers could be good as a dip for pita chips!) Enjoy!