There hasn’t been a whole lot of cooking happening lately. Namely because I’m 33 weeks pregnant. And well, if that’s not an excuse to abandon a hot kitchen, I don’t know what is. Despite the fact that I can’t bend down anymore, I’m still trying to figure out a few fast ways to make meals that have a fair amount of nutrition in them. It’s my first brush with mom-guilt. Unlike other feelings of motherhood inadequacy, this one can be resolved with a healthed-up version of cacio e pepe—Rome’s flagship pasta dish. For the uninitiated, the name translates to “cheese and pepper”. So, it’s got that going for it. In addition, the whole dish comes together in about 15 minutes, making it perfect for nights where you wonder what they heck you’re going to feed yourself. I use a chickpea spaghetti as the base (Folate! Protein! Iron!), stir in some spinach (More iron! Vitamin C!), and top it with some Italian chicken sausage (Even more protein!). There’s a fair amount of parmesan at play, too, which checks the calcium box. With all those things combined, I’ve essentially put together a bowl of prenatal vitamins that is masquerading as adult mac ‘n cheese. You could call it my very first mom-hack.
2 oz spaghetti, I like Banza’s chickpea pasta
1 pre-cooked Italian sausage
1 Tbsp butter, preferably pastured
¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 oz pasta water
¼ c parmesan cheese
1 large handful of spinach
Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Salt your water very generously—at least 1 Tbsp of salt, maybe even 2. Once it boils, cook your pasta a minute less than package instructions.
Place sausage in the oven and preheat to 350°. It’ll be heated through by the time the oven preheats.
Drain the pasta and reserve 1 oz of the pasta water. In the same saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Once melted, add the black pepper and toast in the butter for 30 seconds. Add the pasta water and simmer very low for 2-3 minutes. Stir in parmesan until melted, and then add spinach. Cook until spinach is just wilted and add the cooked pasta. Toss until well-coated.
Slice your heated sausage and toss with the pasta. Serve in a bowl and top with a sprinkle of parmesan and an extra dash extra pepper.