It’s been many months since I’ve blogged a recipe so I’m excited to share this one! Lots has happened since my last blog post! I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles last month to start my new job and within weeks we were on lockdown because of the pandemic. Since then, I’ve been cooking every day and trying to figure out how to make tasty recipes with what I have in my pantry and fridge. As a doctor, this pandemic has been incredibly stressful to say the least. I still go in to my office every day but we have moved primarily to telemedicine. If things get worse faster than expected, we may all get called in to work in the busiest parts of the medical center. I’m trying to stay as healthy as possible by getting enough sleep and eating right. Cooking and creating new recipes helps me keep busy and sane on these days and nights in social isolation. We may not be able to control what’s going on outside, but at least we can make our own healthy eating choices at home. I haven’t been eating very much pasta over the past few years but the pandemic has made it an absolute staple. Soups and stews have also become staples of batch cooking in my house. This dish comes together very easily in one pot. I recommend using a lot of water and also salting your pasta water in order to get perfectly cooked penne. Using plenty of water helps it cook faster and keeps it from sticking. Adding salt to the water also adds some salt to the pasta and gives it more flavor. Let the water come to a rolling boil, add the penne, stir occasionally and remove after 7-8 minutes. Taking it off the heat just before it’s al dente ensures that you won’t overcook it. The pasta will continue to cook even after you remove it and it will cook a little more at the end when you add it to the chorizo mixture. Save some of your pasta water – it’s a starchy game changer that will make your pasta have the texture and taste of pasta from an Italian restaurant. Adding some pasta water back into your sauce at the end helps to tie all of the ingredients together and also gives the pasta a wonderful, silky texture. After you drain the cooked penne, toss it with a little olive oil spray to keep it from sticking.
I used Upton’s brand chorizo seitan because the texture and flavor are just amazing. You can use any other brand of vegan sausage or chorizo crumbles as well but Upton’s is definitely my favorite for this recipe. Feel free to switch out the spinach with kale or any other greens. If you’re using frozen spinach, make sure to thaw it and drain the extra moisture. This recipe will taste very different with frozen spinach so I recommend using half the amount. Any shape of pasta will also work. I picked penne as it pairs well with the bite sized pieces of chorizo seitan. I think fire-roasted tomatoes impart more flavor then just regular diced tomatoes and Muir Glen organic is my favorite brand. Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds brightness and the right amount of acid to bring out the flavor in this dish. This recipe is also great as a desk lunch the next day. This is a super easy, one pot recipe that’s packed with flavor and protein. If you make this recipe let me know how it turns out by posting a picture on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and tagging @thefriendlyepicurean or pin this recipe on Pinterest. I hope you love it as much as I do! Remember to stay home, stay connected, and keep washing your hands!
Chorizo and Spinach Penne
- 4 cups uncooked penne
- 1 tbs olive oil
- olive oil spray
- 1 tbs minced garlic (2-3 pods)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 (8 oz) package of chorizo seitan (such as Upton’s brand)
- 2 (15 oz) can of diced, fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 (5 oz) package of baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 tbs fresh lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes plus more to taste
- 2 tsp salt plus more to taste
DirectionsBring water and 2 tsp salt to a rapid boil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add penne and cook until just al dente – about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside 1/4 cup of pasta water before draining. Spray pasta with olive oil spray to prevent sticking, and set aside. In the same pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Saute onions until translucent, about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Next add chorizo and saute for about 5-6 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook for about 4-5 more minutes. Lower heat, add spinach one cup at a time and saute until it starts to cook down – about 2-3 minutes. Add pasta, reserved pasta water, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, and salt to taste. Remove from heat and serve while hot. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days.