What's on hand
Cook's Illustrated recipe adapted by Peggy Crum, MA, RDN
Featured Food: pasta Yield: serves 4


  • Original ingredient list from Cook’s Illustrated:
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb hot or sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 1/4 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/4 c water
  • 8 oz (2 1/2 c) penne pasta
  • 1/2 c oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped fine
  • 6 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
  • Adjusted ingredient list (exactly what I used):
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 12 oz cellentani pasta (spiral tubes)
  • 12 oz (about 12) meatballs
  • 5 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c pine nuts, toasted


If you're using sausage, heat oil in 12-inch skillet. Add sausage and cook until lightly brown. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

If using precooked meat/meatballs or beans, begin here: Heat oil in 12-inch skillet. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. 

Next, add broth, tomatoes, water and pasta to the skillet. Bring to simmer. Cook, stirring often, until pasta is al dente and liquid has thickened slightly. Add more water as needed. With a few minutes to go, tuck the meatballs into the pasta and sauce. Total simmering time is about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add spinach, a handful at a time, and gently stir it in. Stir in Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Taste; add salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle more cheese on top as desired. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the sauce. 

Original recipe is from Cook's Illustrated.

Featured Recipes

Recipe For Health

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crisp

Combine tart rhubarb with sweet strawberries, add a streusel topping, and bake until bubbly. Dessert doesn’t get easier—or more classic—than this. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You’re sure to get rave reviews!

Recipe For Health

Farro Salad with Grilled Vegetables

Chewy farro grains are delicious in this autumn-y salad. Recipe yields enough for dinner for 2 to 4 with some left for a couple of lunches. To do this, make the base with dressing, farro, and grilled veggies. Add fresh veggies to the base as you go.

Recipe For Health

Pecan and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Roasting amps up the flavor in everything including pecans. Chef Kurt's attention to detail takes a traditional chocolate chip cookie to another level of yum!

Recipe For Health

Onion Soup

Onions, the simplest of pantry staples, mingle with butter, broth, and herbs to become luxuriously smooth and delicious. Add "homemade" croutons and a blend of cheeses to make a complete and satisfying meal.

More Food and Nutrition Recipes

Find a Recipe

Browse all recipes

Find a Class

Browse all courses

Search Health4U

Food and Nutrition Counseling Services

Food and Nutrition Counseling Services provides you with access to accurate health and lifestyle information, helping you to explore new behaviors and skills, and identifying useful campus and community resources.

MSU community members eligible for food and nutrition counseling services include faculty, staff, graduate assistants, retirees and the spouses/partners of members of these groups.

To schedule an appointment with Health4U you are not required to email us from your MSU email address; please email us from the email address you are most comfortable with. 

Read More

Departmental Services

The goal of department based services is to provide work units and colleagues the opportunity to learn about health and wellness as a group activity or exploration.  

Read More

Health e-Guide

This guide has been discontinued and is no longer viewable.

Visit Health e-Guide