This is one of my favorites. It has just a few ingredients, and is relatively lean if you use a good, lowfat chicken sausage (I like Isernio's, which is local, and very lean but still very tasty). This method also taught me to love pasta without a thick sauce like tomato or cream-based - often, all you need is some good olive oil, some freshly grated cheese, lots of fresh ground pepper, and a little cooking water from the pasta to make a nice noodle dish with a veggie and a little meat. When making this, do not skimp on the oil when cooking the zucchini, it becomes part of the "sauce". Leaving it out will leave you with a dry, sticky noodle.
Pasta with Zucchini and Chicken Italian Sausage
12 oz pasta (I used broken linguine)
12 oz chicken Italian sausage (spicy, if you like)
4-5 medium to large zucchini
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 TB good olive oil, divided
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise (quartered if they are very large), then slice thinly across, about 1/8" inch. Set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.
Meanwhile, remove sausage from casing. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook and crumble sausage into bite sized pieces (add a little oil to pan if necessary). When browned and cooked through, set aside. In the same pan, heat 2 TB oil and cook zucchini, stirring ocassionally. When some zucchini is soft and turning translucent, move zucchini away from center of pan. Add garlic (and red pepper flakes, if using) and cook for 2 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Don't let the garlic or pepper burn.
Toss pasta with zucchini and garlic and all of the oil in the pan, plus the sausage, basil, and most of the cheese (reserve some for topping), plus the additional TB of olive oil. Add a little pasta water if it looks too thick. Add plenty of fresh ground pepper, and salt if necessary. Serve and garnish with a little extra cheese. Serves 4-6.