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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Gluten Free Sausage Cheese Ball Appetizers

These little one bite appetizers are the bomb!  Proof that gluten free does not have to be complicated, this easy recipe is perfect for all your party and game day get togethers.  You may want to make a double batch, they’re that good!

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I used Premio Mild Italian Sausage in this recipe, but you can change it up and use a sweet or hot sausage, just check ingredients for gluten.

For the pancake/biscuit mix I used and recommend Better Batter.  It works well in this recipe, and no one will know it’s gluten free!  Plus, this mix has so many other uses, you know the extra won’t go to waste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. onion, small dice
  • 2 tbsp. celery, small dice
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp. gluten free pancake/biscuit mix
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 6 oz. mild Italian sausage (about 2 links), casing removed
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup gluten free BBQ sauce, for serving

Preparation:

Chop the onion and celery into 1/4″ pcs.  Add to a small nonstick skillet with 1 tsp. olive oil and cook over medium heat until translucent.  Set aside to cool.

In the same skillet, partially cook the sausage.

Transfer the sausage, onion and celery to an electric chopper and pulse a few times to break it up.

Mix the cheese, pancake/biscuit mix, garlic powder and crushed red pepper together in a small bowl.

Add the sausage, onion and celery mixture with 1/4 cup egg whites.

Using your hands, gently toss and mix everything together without squeezing.

Preheat the oven to 375º.  Line a sheet pan with foil and mist with cooking spray.  Form 1-inch meatballs and arrange them on the sheet pan with space in between.

Bake for 15 minutes, turning once.

Drain on paper towels.

Transfer to a serving tray with your favorite gluten free BBQ sauce for dipping.  You can prepare ahead and reheat in the microwave before serving.

Notes ♪♫ This post was inspired by a recipe on Taste of Home.  That’s right, you don’t always need a gluten free recipe or special cookbook.  In fact, only one ingredient substitute was needed to make this recipe gluten free, and you can whip up a batch in under an hour!

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Chicken, Sausage and Rice Casserole

Whenever I make this flavorful casserole for a family dinner it gets rave reviews!  Chicken drumsticks and Italian sausage come together with ingredients straight from the pantry, and you can use any veggies you have on hand!  It’s easy and economical too.  You can do most of the prep a day ahead and bake the next day.  And that bacon breadcrumb topping- wow!  It really gives this dish an extra punch of flavor, texture and crunch!

4-6 Servings

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Ingredients:

Preparation:

Brown rice takes about 50 minutes to cook, so start that first.  Simmer 3/4 cup rice in 1-3/4 cups chicken broth and 1/4 tsp. seasoning of choice.

For the topping, coarsely chop the bacon, cook and drain on paper towels, reserving the fat in the pan.

Crumble the bacon, or place in an electric chopper and pulse a few times to make bacon bits.

Add 1/3 cup of gluten free breadcrumbs to the skillet with the bacon fat and stir over low heat.  Add back the crumbled bacon and stir well to combine.  Set aside to cool, then mix with 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese for topping.

I love Aleia’s Gluten Free Breadcrumbs and I use this brand almost exclusively in my recipes.  I promise, your family won’t even know they are gluten free!

In the same skillet, brown the chicken on all sides in a little olive oil.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Place browned chicken in a braising pan or Dutch oven, add ¼ cup white wine and 1/4 cup chicken broth.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate, remove meat from the bones and sprinkle with paprika.  Strain the liquid from the pan and reserve for later.

Slice the sausage and brown in olive oil.  You can use store bought sausage or check out my recipe for homemade sausage patties!  If using purchased sausage, always check labels for gluten containing ingredients.

Pulse the cooked sausage a few times in the chopper and set aside.

Wipe the braising pan or Dutch oven clean.  Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and add the veggies.  Season and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add back the sausage and stir well.

Now add the chicken and cooked rice.  Measure the reserved liquid and add enough chicken broth to equal 1-1/2 cups.  Combine with 1/4 cup milk and pour over the chicken and rice mixture.

Tip: Prepare the meal up to this point a day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  

Preheat the oven to 350º.  You can bake the casserole in the same pan, or transfer to a pretty casserole dish for a nicer presentation.  Note, if you made the casserole in the advance, take it out of the refrigerator and leave on the counter for at least 30 minutes (don’t place a refrigerated glass baking dish directly into a hot oven, it may shatter).

Spread the breadcrumb mixture over the casserole and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

The liquid will bubble and thicken to create a nice sauce.  I like to finish it off under the broiler, 3 minutes on low.  Watch that it doesn’t burn!

Let it rest a few minutes to set up, then garnish with fresh herbs (or dried herbs) and bring it right to the table.

Notes ♪♫ Remember, you can substitute any veggies you like in this recipe.  Once I went out on a limb and used eggplant.  Surprise, the reaction ranged from “I loved it” to “I didn’t even know it was in there”! Try broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or zucchini.  Use what you have on hand, use what you like!

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Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties are the bomb!  I always say homemade is best, but why would you go to the trouble of making your own sausage patties?  For starters, you control the fat, you control the salt, no chemicals, no nitrites, no preservatives, NO GLUTEN!  And with no casings needed they are easy to make.  You can buy gluten free breakfast sausage seasoning or make your own.  Experiment with different spice combinations to find the one you like best.  Be sure to use real maple syrup.  For years I purchased breakfast sausage links at the supermarket, but not any more!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp. homemade gluten free sausage seasoning (see below)
  • 4 tbsp. maple syrup
  • fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish

Sausage Seasoning:

  • 1 tsp. salt (use less if limiting salt)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. sage
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander

OR use a purchased Sausage Seasoning

Preparation:

Combine the pork and turkey in a large bowl and blend together lightly with 2 forks.  Don’t compress the meat.  Of course you can use all pork or all turkey, but I found that blending equal amounts of each gives a good balance of flavor and fat.

Drizzle in the maple syrup and sprinkle the seasoning a little at a time.  With each addition, use the forks to thoroughly incorporate.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper.  Scoop the mixture into 2 oz. balls, then gently press into patties.  You will have about 15 total.

Prepare the patties and refrigerate one day ahead for a brunch.  The patties will keep for several months in the freezer.  You can freeze them on the baking sheet then transfer to a freezer safe bag.  They are great to have on hand to enjoy on the weekend.

Cook sausage patties 5 minutes per side in a nonstick skillet.  For a nice presentation, I like to garnish the patties with fresh thyme sprigs.

Add some homemade goodness to your family breakfast table with this easy recipe.  If you enjoyed this post, check out some of my favorite brunch ideas to feed a family or a crowd!

Notes ♪♫  Always check ingredient labels for hidden gluten.  Seasoning blends are convenient, but if you are limiting salt make your own!

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Gluten Free Sausage and Hash Brown Casserole

Breakfast casseroles are my go-to for morning entertaining or a light dinner.  Easy and convenient, this recipe is the perfect size for a small gathering, but you can double it for larger families (or bigger appetites).  Gluten free with no oddball ingredients to purchase, just prep the night before and bake in the morning!

9 servings

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Ingredients:

I love that you can vary the ingredients and have something a little different each time.  Today I’m using a mild Italian chicken sausage, but you can sub a spicier sausage, ham or bacon.  Shredded hash brown potatoes will give you a smoother consistency, or use the cubed for more definition.  Cheddar is a classic choice for this casserole, but any cheese will work.  I used my favorite, gruyere.  Colorful veggies like bell pepper and broccoli can be added, but be sure to cook them in advance to remove some of their moisture.  With extra veggies you may need to extend the cook time.

Ingredients…

Preparation:

Coarsely chop the sausage, or pulse in an electric chopper.

Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a nonstick skillet and brown the sausage.  Set aside to cool.

Combine the hash browns and sausage with half of the cheese and mix thoroughly.

Beat the eggs with the milk and seasoning.

Mist an 8 x 8″ square glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread the potato and sausage mixture evenly in the dish and pour the egg mixture over everything.  Top with the remaining cheese and sprinkle with paprika.

Cover tightly with foil and be sure to mist the foil with cooking spray first to prevent sticking.  Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, take the dish out of the refrigerator at least one half hour before baking (so the glass doesn’t crack).  Preheat the oven to 350º.  Remove the foil and bake for 1 hour.  If needed, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Note, other items baking at the same time will lengthen the cook time.

The casserole will be golden brown with the sides pulling away from the baking dish.  Check the center with a toothpick, it should come out dry.

This casserole is a complete meal but you can serve it with a nice fruit salad, bacon or ham.  Don’t fight over the corners!

Notes ♪♫ Frozen hash brown potatoes are a great convenience, but always check the label for gluten containing ingredients, especially if they are seasoned.  Today there are so many options for gluten free sausage, ham and bacon.  You should have no problem finding one that your family will enjoy.  Always be careful with spice blends, and grate your own cheese for best flavor and no unwanted additives.

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Gluten Free Stuffed Peppers

Bell peppers are available year-round and come in so many beautiful colors!  We really love these Italian style stuffed peppers, so I decided to make a few.  The sausage and rice stuffing is delicious and can stand on its own as a casserole.  Since it can be made ahead, this is a nice easy meal to have when you get home from work.  Choose peppers that are uniform in size, and check that they can stand upright.

For a really special touch, try using my homemade Mushroom Soup and homemade Italian Sausage in this recipe, both are fabulous!  Of course, you can use store bought if you like, just make sure the ingredients are gluten free.    

This recipe will yield enough stuffing for 4 medium peppers.  In this post I am stuffing 2 peppers and serving the rest as a casserole.

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Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup long grain brown rice (uncooked) 
  • 1-1/2 cups gluten free Lower Sodium or Unsalted Chicken broth 
  • olive oil 
  • 1/2 sweet onion diced 
  • 3  garlic cloves minced 
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 8 oz. gluten free  Italian Sausage, casings removed
  • 1-1/2 cups gluten free Mushroom Soup 
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk, plus more as needed 
  • paprika 
  • 1/3 cup shredded gruyere cheese 
  • 1/3 cup gluten free  Italian breadcrumbs 

_____________________________________

  • 4 bell peppers, color of your choice 
  • 1/4 cup grated gruyere or Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/4 cup gluten free Italian breadcrumbs 
  • 2 cups purchased marinara sauce for serving or-
    • 1 medium can tomato sauce
    • 1/4 cup onion
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 tsp. brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. each basil, oregano and marjoram
    • salt and pepper to taste 

Preparation: 

Cook the rice in the chicken broth.  I used long grain brown rice which takes about 50 minutes to cook, so I gave it a 35-minute head start before adding to the casserole. 

Next heat a deep, oven proof skillet to medium low and add the onions, mushrooms and garlic with a little olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Push the veggies to the side, leaving a space in the center of the pan and add the sausage.

Break up the meat with a spatula to brown it all over, then stir into the veggies.

When the rice has simmered for 35 minutes, add it to the skillet along with any broth that has not been absorbed.  Add the Mushroom Soup and 1/4 cup milk.

Sprinkle the top with paprika and place the skillet in a 350° oven.  Bake for 30 minutes uncovered. 

While the casserole is baking, make a small batch of marinara (or heat up prepared sauce).  Heat olive oil in a small saucepan, and begin cooking the onion and garlic, stir frequently until the onions are translucent.

Add 1 can of tomato sauce, 14.5 oz.  Season with basil, oregano, marjoram, ground pepper and 1 tsp. of brown sugar.

Simmer on very low heat while the casserole finishes cooking.

Stir the casserole after 30 minutes and add an additional 1/4 cup milk if it appears dry.  Continue baking for another 30 minutes.  The casserole should be set but moist.

Sprinkle the top with the Gruyere cheese and breadcrumbs. 

Broil on low for 5 minutes or just until the top is nicely browned.  You can prepare up to this point a day ahead.

Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the ribs and seeds.

Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes.

Use tongs to remove the peppers from the water, and set them aside on paper towels to drain and cool. 

Arrange the cooled peppers in a baking dish coated with cooking spray and spoon in the stuffing.

Top with more cheese and breadcrumbs, then bake for 35 minutes at 350°.

Finish under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, just until the tops are browned. 

Remember I said the stuffing can stand alone as a casserole?  For those who don’t care for the peppers you can set aside some stuffing and simply top with cheese and breadcrumbs and finish under the broiler.  It’s delicious!

Serve with marinara sauce as a main course or side.  The peppers freeze well.  Just cool to room temperature and wrap them in foil, then store in freezer safe bags.

Notes ♪♫ I used Aleia’s gluten free Italian breadcrumbs in this recipe.  My favorite gluten free breadcrumbs, I always have them on hand in my pantry.

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Gluten Free Shrimp and Sausage Fettuccine

A well-stocked pantry means that I always have enough on hand to pull together a quick meal.  The ingredients in this spicy seafood pasta dish are all pantry staples at our house.  Garlic, onions, olive oil are the foundation of so many recipes.  I buy frozen jumbo shrimp when on sale and keep my homemade Italian Sausage patties in the freezer as I add a little into so many recipes.

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Ingredients:

Preparation:

Brown the sausage in a large non-stick skillet, breaking it up with a spatula.

Add the onions and garlic, stir and cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the tomatoes and herbs.  Cover and simmer over low heat.

Boil water for pasta and cook to 1 minute less than package directions.

With 5 minutes left on the pasta, add the shrimp to the skillet along with 3 tbsp. milk.  If it looks dry add a ladle of pasta water.

To finish, add the fettuccine to the skillet and toss well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute longer.

Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with fresh parsley.

Notes: ♪♫ I used Barilla Gluten Free Fettuccine in this recipe.  I love the texture of the wider noodles, and the gluten eaters enjoyed it as well!

 

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Easy Gluten Free Italian Sausage Patties No Salt

Why make your own sausage?  Today we have so many brands of gluten free sausage that are widely available.  Why am I going through the trouble of making it from scratch?  The short answer, sodium.

As a woman of a certain age, I can tell you that when that check engine light goes on, you had best take it seriously.  So, a couple of years ago when my blood pressure started going up, up, up I decided to embrace low sodium cooking.

Just as when I was first diagnosed with Celiac disease, I went through everything in my pantry and checked the labels.  This time, instead of gluten I was looking for sodium.  Like gluten, it’s EVERYWHERE!

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I have replaced my favorite convenience items like chicken broth, canned tomatoes and beans with the unsalted version.  Some of my purchased spice blends had to go, and I’m ok with that since I can make my own without salt.

Now back to the sausage.  I love using Italian sausage in my recipes.  I add a little to my Meatloaf, Meatballs, Pizza, even my Shepherd’s Pie!  Alas, the store-bought sausage has way too much salt and now it too had got to go.

So today I made my first batch of Italian Sausage with NO SALT.  With this base, I can use it freely without worry about adding yet more salt into a recipe.

Maybe you’re not worried about sodium.  Why make your own sausage?  Because you control the ingredients.  Want less fat?  Instead of all pork use a combination of pork and turkey or use all turkey or chicken.  Don’t like fennel?  Leave it out.  Like it spicy?  Add more hot pepper flakes.  You get the idea.

My mother used to say that no one really knows what is in sausage.  Make your own and you will know!

Please note that I am not grinding my own meat nor am I using casings.  Remember, I called this an easy recipe.  ????

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. peppercorns, ground
  • 2 tsp. parsley
  • 2 tsp. garlic granules
  • 2 tsp. onion granules
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar

Preparation:

Measure the spices before you begin.  I used a coffee grinder to break up my peppercorns, fennel seed and red pepper flakes.

Add the pork and turkey to a large bowl.

Use 2 forks to break apart the meat and mix it together.  This will take some time and patience, as you want it well mixed but not compressed.

Add the vinegar one tbsp. at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Whisk the spices together and sprinkle over the meat, using the forks to incorporate the spices throughout the mixture.  If you’re not watching salt go ahead and add some here.

I used a scale to measure out 4 oz. patties.  I pressed them between wax paper squares.  This recipe yields 8 patties.

The patties need to rest for 12 hours in the refrigerator prior to cooking, this allows the flavors to meld, and the vinegar tenderizes the meat.

After 12 hours in the fridge the sausage patties are ready to be cooked or frozen.  They are great for breakfast or in a sandwich.

Use them in meat sauce, casseroles and stuffing.

Notes ♪♫ In most of my recipes I will recommend that you add salt or seasoning to taste.  Whether you need to limit salt for medical reasons or just a personal preference, when you cook from scratch you are always in control.

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