Sausage with Penne and Spinach

For an easy gluten free weeknight meal, look no further than this delicious skillet dinner.  Thanks to my sister for turning me on to the sausage and spinach combo, she made this meal for me shortly after my Celiac diagnosis!  Today I always like to have a variety of sausage on hand in my freezer pantry.  It’s delicious and the bold seasonings are enough to flavor an entire dish.  So, grab a pack, along with some gluten free penne and fresh baby spinach and let’s prepare a quick, satisfying weeknight dinner.

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3-4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. gluten free Italian sausage sliced into coins
  • 2 oz. diced pancetta
  • 1/2 lb. gluten free penne
  • 1/2 bag fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 sweet onion, small dice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine (not cooking wine)
  • 1 ladle of pasta water
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated cheese for finishing (Parmesan or Romano)
  • Italian parsley for garnish optional

Preparation:

Cook the penne for 5 minutes less than the package directions, drain and set aside, reserving 1 ladle of the pasta water.  I find that most gluten free pasta is done to al dente long before the package instructions.  So, to be on the safe side I always under cook it, then finish it in the skillet.

Heat a large skillet over medium low and begin browning the sausage and pancetta in a little olive oil.

When nicely browned on both sides add the onion and garlic.  Continue cooking and stir frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Next add the drained penne, all of the spinach, white wine and a ladle of the pasta water.

Cover and cook 1-2 minutes longer, or just until the spinach is wilted.  Drizzle with a little more olive oil, toss and finish with grated cheese and chopped parsley.

Dinner is on the table in under a half hour.  Perfect for those busy weeknights!

Notes ♪♫ Today there are so many types of gluten free sausage available.  Just in the 6 years since my Celiac diagnosis, the availability of delicious gluten free sausage has expanded so much.  So don’t hesitate to take advantage of easy meals like this one.  And if you’re worried about sodium or other ingredients, learn to make your own.  Check out my Gluten Free Italian Sausage Patties, and my Gluten Free Breakfast Sausage Patties.  Both are easy to make, and you control what goes into them!

 

Originally published 6/3/2018             Revised 1/17/2024

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Lamb Chops

Isn’t it funny how food can bring back a memory?  I haven’t had lamb chops since I was a little girl, 60+ years ago!  At a very young age though, I remember my grandmother would often make me a single lamb chop for lunch.  It was the perfect size for a picky kid’s appetite!

Recently we were browsing the meat aisle and spotted these lamb loin chops in a family pack.  Mr. Cucina noticed them right away and said since we love lamb shanks so much why don’t we try the chops?

So, with just a few additional ingredients here’s what we had for dinner that night.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 Lamb Chops
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • fresh parsley, for garnish

Preparation:

Pat the pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet with the fresh thyme and rosemary.

The chops will have fat on one side.  Stand the lamb chops on their side in the pan, with the fat side down and cook 5 minutes to render the fat.

Then lay the chops down and cook 7 minutes on one side.

Turn the chops, cover and cook for 7 minutes longer.  During the last 2 minutes of cooking, uncover and add the wine and butter.

Check with a thermometer that the internal temperature reaches 145º for medium.

Place the chops on a serving dish and drizzle with pan juices.  Finish with fresh parsley.

Notes ♪♫ If you love lamb, check out my Braised Lamb Shanks.  A different cut that lends itself to a slow cooked dinner.

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A Week of Gluten Free Air Fryer Recipes

Last weekend my stove broke down. ???? At first we looked into repairing it, but in the end it made more sense to buy a new one.  So, with a new range on order and delivery a week out, the Air Fryer became the star of my kitchen.  With supporting roles from the Rice Cooker and microwave, we were in no danger of going hungry!

These meals are so easy, that I decided to make a little collage of what we had for dinner each night.  Some require a bit of prep, while others need no more than a light brush of oil and sprinkle of seasoning.  All meals are for 2 servings.

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Night #1 Pork Tenderloin, rice and broccoli

First up, an easy pork tenderloin, done in the air fryer using the rotisserie spit.  I brushed a 12 oz. piece of pork tenderloin with olive oil and sprinkled with seasoning.  I air fried it for 20 minutes at 370º.  While the meat was cooking, I made a side of rice and steamed broccoli in my Rice Cooker.  If you like pork tenderloin check out some of these recipes!

Night #2 Chicken Thighs with green beans, and                              leftover rice

For night 2, I coated 2 chicken thighs with tapioca starch and seasoning, gave it a light spray of oil and air fried for 30 minutes at 400º.  I added green beans to the air fryer during the last 8 minutes.  The rice was left over from the previous meal.  If you liked this meal idea, check out this detailed post on how to make Air Fryer Chicken Thighs.

Night #3  Salmon with Red Potatoes and                                            Broccoli

For night 3, I tossed diced red bliss potatoes with olive oil and seasoning.  I started them in the air fryer at 400º for 20 minutes.  I brushed the salmon with olive and maple seasoning, and added it to the air fryer during the last 10 minutes of cooking.  The broccoli went in for the last 5 minutes.

Night #4  Ribeye Steak with Potatoes and Carrots

For this magnificent ribeye, I’ll admit I spent a bit more time on prep.  I started with a 2-hour marinade, then air fried it for 21 minutes at 400º.  I also cooked potato wedges and carrots in the air fryer at the same time.  Read more about it here.

Night #5  Breaded Pork Chops with Brown Rice and                      Mixed Veggies

For our final meal, I cooked 2 pork chops in a traditional flour-egg-breadcrumb combination (yes, they were big!).  I dredged the pork chops in rice flour, dipped them in egg then coated them with gluten free seasoned breadcrumbs.  I let them rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, then air fried them for 20 minutes at 400º.  While the pork chops cooked, I made brown rice in the rice cooker and microwaved frozen mixed veggies.

I hope you got some meal ideas for your air fryer, in case your oven malfunctions like mine did.  Or for when it’s just too hot to light the oven!  These are easy weeknight meals that are perfect for two.  I’m excited to say my new range has since been delivered and I can’t wait to try it out!

Notes ♪♫ Air fryer best practices.  Always preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes before adding the food.  Don’t crowd the air fryer, the air needs to circulate around the food as it cooks.  Turn the food halfway through the cook time for even cooking.  For browning, a light brush or a few sprays of oil will give you that delicious crispy crust.

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Air Fryer Pork Chops and Zucchini Rounds

The air fryer is a godsend when you are running short on time but want to cook a healthy meal from scratch.  The beauty of a recipe like this is that it allows the flavors of fresh ingredients to shine through, plain and simple.  Look how easily I put this dinner together!

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For the pork chops:

Brush the pork chops lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning.  Place on a rack misted with cooking spray.  Air fry for 15 minutes at 400º, turning every 5 minutes.  The internal temperature should be 145º.

For the Zucchini:

  • 1 zucchini, sliced into rounds
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • Grated parmesan
  • cooking spray

Brush or spray the zucchini lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning.  Top each round with ½ tsp. grated cheese.  Place rounds 1″ apart on a tray misted with cooking spray.  Add the zucchini to the air fryer when the pork chops have 7 minutes remaining cook time.  They do not need to be turned.

I served the pork chops and zucchini with a side of brown rice cooked in gluten free chicken broth.  A basic, healthy meal for your family on the table in under 30 minutes.

Notes ♪♫  I find the trickiest part of using an air fryer is determining the right cook time and temperature.  There are so many variables, including the size, shape and weight of your meat, other items being cooked at the same time, etc.  You can use a chart like this one as a guide, but I find that using a meat thermometer is essential.

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One Pan Drumstick Dinner

Keeping your weeknight meals interesting can be a challenge.  Here is a simple recipe using common ingredients to add to your rotation.  Use an oven proof covered skillet or Dutch oven for easy, one pan cleanup.  The preparation is mostly hands off, so with just a little effort you can have a nice meal on the table with time to spare.

2 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 ears of sweet corn, cut into thirds

Preparation:

Place 1/4 cup of rice flour in a clean plastic bag.  Add the chicken drumsticks, close the bag and shake to coat.

Add olive oil to a heavy, oven proof skillet and begin browning the chicken on all sides along with the onions.

Add the carrots to the pan, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Next pour in 1/4 cup of white wine, cover the pan and place in a 375º oven for 45 minutes.  Turn the chicken half way through.

During the last 10 minutes of cooking add the sweet corn.

Finish it off under the broiler for 3 minutes on high.  The chicken will be falling off the bone tender, the pan juices slightly thickened to create a nice light sauce.

Notes: ♪♫ Use plain white rice flour to coat the chicken, save your pricey all purpose gluten free flour mix for another recipe.

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Pan Cooked Flounder Fillets

This delicate pan cooked flounder was the first meal I ever made for my husband.  It was our 3rd date, over 25 years ago!  I guess it was a good choice, we have been together ever since!

Today, my old recipe has been easily adapted to be gluten free, with a simple substitution of fine white rice flour for regular.  Perfect for busy weeknights, you can literally have dinner on the table in 20 minutes!  The quick pan cooked method is all that is needed for this light, sweet tasting white fish.

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Dinner for two

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. flounder fillets
  • ¼ cup white rice flour for dusting
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • fresh chives
  • lemon wedges for serving

Preparation:

Sprinkle the fish with Old Bay® seasoning.

Add the flour to a breading tray or a plate and dredge the fillets in the flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet.

Add the flounder and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium low heat.

Carefully turn it over and add a splash of white wine to the pan.  Use 2 spatulas if needed so the fillets don’t break apart.  Another 2-3 minutes is all it takes to finish off this delicate flaky fish.  Finish with a sprinkle of chives.

That’s all there is to it!  Serve with lemon wedges.

Pair with rice or potato and a veggie and you have a delicious meal.  Start your own happily ever after with an easy but inspired dinner for two!

Notes ♪♫ Plain White Rice flour is perfect for recipes like this.  Save your pricey gluten free blends for baking.

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