Last night was one of those nights that just does not happen enough in my world. All the kids were home for dinner! Yes, unfortunately this is a rarity. With kids scattered across the county – going to school and working, the older ones’ schedules just do not always mesh up. Lucky for me, I was able to get one night with everyone at the dinner table.
While two kids are home from college for the summer, and my son, Robert, is now living and working in Sacramento (only a bit more than a two hour drive), Alyssa will be heading back next week to Aspen for a summer job working at an educational farm camp. So this was our one night with everyone together for the foreseeable future.
I have been waiting to get everyone together at the dinner table for quite some time! When my husband and I spent a weekend in Carmel last fall, we found these adorable plates at a gift shop called Chuckles. I decided that we needed to buy a set for our family. It took us a bit of time in the gift shop trying to decide which plate was for whom. We definitely had fun trying to choose the perfect plate for each child. The plan was to set the table and let them decide which plate belonged to each of them.
Well the table was set, and it took them all of one minute to figure it out!
My plate reads Mother Hen and Gavin’s is Papa Bear. I need to get a few extra for when we have guest. Nicole’s boyfriend was here for dinner as well, and I did not have a special plate for him. I think I will buy Happy Camper and Hot Dog to have on hand for guests.
The kids ordered up one of their favorite meals for dinner. A giant bowl of penne, sausage, and spinach. This is a recipe that I have been making for years from my William’s Sonoma Entertaining Cookbook. This dinner is great for the family or for a large gathering. I have more than doubled this recipe. It is one that I have fed to a party of 35+ guests by making it in batches. Getting the sausage, garlic, wine, and seasonings all cooked and staying warm to the point of adding the spinach and pasta. So good!
Penne with Italian Sausage, Spinach and Bread Crumbs Recipe
- Coarse salt, to taste
- 1 lb. penne
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 6 oz. baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup crushed seasoned croutons
- 1/2 cup shaved pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir well and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes, or according to the package instructions.
- Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Crumble the sausage into the pan and sauté until lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a warmed large bowl.
- Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to release its flavor. Pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Transfer the garlic and the pan juices to the bowl with the sausage. Add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and croutons to the bowl and cover to keep warm.
- Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Immediately transfer the pasta to the bowl with the other ingredients and toss, adding the 1/2 cup cheese, the cream and the reserved cooking water.
- Season the pasta with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately, passing additional cheese at the table. Serves 6.
And then after dinner – a family photo shoot and a game of catch! A perfect (albeit way to short) family dinner and time together.
Be sure to bookmark this recipe! So good!
What a beautiful family, and you look like one proud mama 🙂 This sounds like a great dish! Especially for serving up to a crowd!
Yes, I am one proud mama 🙂
That sounds delicious! How wonderful that you got everyone home together!
Yes, the best part of dinner was having everyone home together!
Oh my goodness what a beautiful family!! What a sweet moment that must’ve been to have all of your kids around the table. My little one is just four but I tell him all the time how much I’ll miss him when he goes out in the world to spread his wings.
Grabbing this recipe for family night next week!
Have your kids fly off and do all the good stuff you raised theme to do – is hard and wonderful! So bittersweet! Let me know what you think of the recipe when you make it!
This looks perfect for summer and a big crowd. It looks like you had a great time as well, which is always good. 🙂
I have made this recipe for a very group of 40 before! I made up a bunch of batches to the point of adding the pasta. I kept the sausage mixture warm until it was time to boil pasta and toss it all together. Adding in the spinach at the end. It worked!
Great looking family! I love those plates! We are huge pasta fans here so Ill have to try this over the weekend.
Thanks! Let me know what you think once you try the recipe!
I am in love with the recipe, i Love PASTA <3 a lot.. Gorgeous family pictures! I will definelty try the recipe soon.
Thanks! The recipe is amazing – really! Let me know what you think when you make the pasta.
I love sausage with spinach. I actually always have spinach just to kind of throw in dishes that need a little extra something. Plus, it’s an easy thing to hide from kids, like in smoothies.
Yes, we make our smoothies with spinach (and kale) as well. The kids love them – and they definitely don’t mind the green color of their smoothies.
It looks like you had such a fun time! The food also looks really yummy!
Yes we did! I love the time that we all get to spend together!
Awww how exciting to have everyone home for dinner! Those plates are seriously adorable haha!
I know really, are they not the cutest? I did buy two more so I have a couple of extras for guests.
This sounds absolutely amazing! I love Italian dishes!
The flavors are amazing together! Thanks for stopping by!
That looks delicious! I always like to be introduced to new pasta recipes!
Be sure to add this one to your recipe box! It is yummy! thanks for stopping by!
This pasta looks delicious. I love an easy recipe and this looks perfect for a family meal. Pinning this!
Thanks for the pin, Kirsten. It is yummy!
Pasta is the language of love… and this looks lovely!
Ahh.. I love that! I think you are right – Pasta is the language of love!
I can relate to your family being spread out. That is us. We only gather together on occasion. The recipe looks so yummy! I can’t wait to try it.
I hope you get to gather soon. It never seems to be often enough for me! Thanks for stopping by.
Everyone looks so happy and the pasta looks fantastic! Thanks for the great post 😀
Enjoy – it is a favorite!
This pasta looks delicious! I am a huge pasta fan so it’s great to see you added spinach in there! I have a three year old so I always have to hide vegetables in with other food so she doesn’t see it.
The spinach is yummy in the pasta – but it needs to be fresh. Leftover wilted spinach is not yummy! I am lucky in that my kids have always been very healthy and easy eaters. Sautéed Swiss chard was one of their very favorite vegetables from a very young age.
Sweet! I bet you’re still reeling from it 🙂
I often imagine the day when my kids are off to college (or whatever they choose) and they come visit us. I feel joy when I think of those times! I’ll probably cook some of their favorites: bowtie pasta w/ Italian sausage, red bell pepper and Italian parsley; my famous beef dip sandwich; and of course, my tacos 🙂
The pasta recipe looks delish, and your family is beautiful!
Oh those recipes sound yummy! Yes, when they visit – it is all about making them their favorites 🙂
Such a beautiful family! The pasta looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it!
Thank you! The recipe is delicious and easy! And since it calls for red wine, you get to also enjoy a glass while cooking 🙂