Quick Italian Sausage & Spinach Penne

For those of you in America, how was your Thanksgiving?  Good, I hope!  We are celebrating Thanksgiving with my family next weekend, so on Thursday we took advantage of the Community Thanksgiving hosted by the aptly named Café Gratitude.  From noon until three they provided a free meal to any and everybody that wanted to attend (and, to boot, the entire event was run by volunteers) — how nice is that!?

Before they opened the doors, Natalie, the owner, came out to take a picture of the line (that’s Erik waving in the back, and I’m peaking through over his shoulder).  She then had all of us in the first round form a circle inside before being seated.  We all held hands and each of us took a turn expressing something we were grateful for.

Everyone was served the same meal, the “I am Amazing,” which consisted of a big salad, a veggie and nut loaf smothered in a mushroom gravy and a pecan pie ball for dessert.  It was incredibly good, and we were both surprised at how stuffed we were after our meal!

Cafe Gratitude Kansas City Community Thanksgiving - I am Amazing |  | © the vegan crew | www.thevegancrew.com

I was thankful for community, new experiences and a full belly, and so grateful for Café Gratitude for sponsoring an event like this!

We quickly discovered the downside to eating out for Thanksgiving:  no leftovers to nosh on the next day.  Despite not cooking for Thanksgiving, our sparsely-stocked kitchen was still not calling my name, and we needed lunch.  We remedied that with this flavorsome 15-minute dish:

Italian Sausage & Spinach Penne | © the vegan crew | www.thevegancrew.com

I try to keep things positive around here, but can I let you in on a little pet peeve of mine?  Cookbooks whose recipes are filled with ingredients like soy crumbles or chick’n filets.  There isn’t anything wrong with these foods — we enjoy our fair share of prepacked plant-based meat products — but I can’t help but feel disappointed and slightly cheated when a cookbook relies on them instead of whole foods.

With that said, they are convenient and can sometimes really add to a recipe, so I am breaking a rule of mine today and sharing a recipe featuring Tofurky Italian sausages…

We occasionally have a package on hand because Erik likes to chop them up into tiny bits and sprinkle them on his pizzas.  I set out to mix them with pasta for a very basic dish, and I kept adding to it as I pulled items from the fridge and pantry.  The result was a winning, savory lunch that took virtually no time to make.  Enjoy!

Quick Italian Sausage & Spinach Penne
Makes: 3 servings
  • 8 oz. whole wheat penne
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil (plus more, if desired)
  • ½ medium yellow onion, cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 2 Tofurky Italian Sausages, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced into half moons
  • 6 cups chopped spinach
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds, finely chopped
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add penne. Cook until al dente, drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until browned. Add the sausage and cook, flipping occasionally, until it begins to brown as well.
  3. Add in the spinach, wine, oregano, basil, salt and pepper (and extra oil, if desired), cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted.
  4. Toss in the penne and cook for a minute more. Remove from heat and sprinkle with almonds before serving.
Notes & Tips
(1) Don't have any Italian Sausage available? Use seitan instead (up the spices and add sun-dried tomatoes). Other great additions include fresh basil and olives. (2) If reheating the next day, you may want to add a little more oil and/or wine as the pasta can dry out overnight.

What are some of your favorite quick meals?  What about some of your silly pet peeves?


  1. Molly says

    I’m the same way! (: This dish is fab, I made it yesterday for dinner and me and the hubs both loved it! It tastes way more gourmet than you’d think a simple 15 minute pasta dish could! Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. says

    Thanks for the great recipe, I will give this one a try for sure. I really love using Italian sausage in my dishes. Can I substitute chard for spinach?

  3. says

    It’s so great that Cafe Gratitude offered a free Thanksgiving meal! I bet a lot of people were introduced to them for the first time that day. If I’d been in Kansas City, I know I would have been there! Your Italian sausage and spinach penne sounds delicious. It’s handy to have a few easy, substantive meals to fall back on.

    • says

      It was a great experience to have the meal at Cafe Gratitude, especially since we weren’t able to be with family that particular day. It seemed like a lot of people took advantage of the meal, which was great to see. Hopefully it can become a KC tradition.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *