This sausage, feta, and almond-parsley pesto pasta is a fun spin on traditional pesto!
I feel like parsley is an under-appreciated herb. At least I don’t appreciate it like it deserves. I get all worked up about exciting herbs like basil and cilantro but rarely do I give parsley a second thought. Today, I’m bringing back parsley. And what better way to really highlight an herb than to make a pesto out of it?
I had the idea for this almond parsley pesto pasta (say that three times fast) with sausage and feta as I was driving home on Wednesday from my grandma’s funeral. I was actually thinking about food for the entire four and a half hour drive which I think would’ve made my grandma really happy. In addition to reminiscing on my grandma’s Czech kolaches, pork cutlets, potato dumplings, and Easter bunny cake, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to make for dinner after 1) an emotional and long day and 2) a big church lunch after the funeral. I wasn’t particularly hungry but knew we would need dinner.
I did a mental run-through of our refrigerator and knew I had a package of Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage, more lemons than I care to admit, and a big block of feta that I had used about 1/8 of in another recipe. These ingredients seemed perfect for some sort of pasta, but it needed some sauce. I’m all about the sauce y’know? The idea of a fresh a lemony parsley pesto seemed to fit the bill here, so I went with it for this sausage, feta, and almond parsley pesto pasta!
The pesto recipe made a little more than what we needed to use that night for the two of us, but luckily pesto freezes beautifully and we’ll have parsley pesto ready to go whenever we want. Another recipe note – in my directions I talk about saving the pasta water and adding some in at the end. This naturally thickens any pasta sauce, which really meant that a little bit of my pesto went a long ways. Add the pasta water gradually, until the pasta is coated in the pesto to your liking. If you want to read more about how pasta water thickens your sauces, check out this article.
I loved the freshness of the parsley in the pesto and along with the lemon zest and feta – it was a yummy spring dinner. The chicken sausage added some heartiness to the pasta, but I think you could use other meats too, like chicken or shrimp, and I think a can of chickpeas would be a really delicious vegetarian option, too.
- 10-12 oz fusilli pasta or pasta of your choice
- 4 links chicken sausage I used roasted garlic chicken sausage
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
for the almond-parsley pesto:
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 2 cups parsley leaves loosely packed
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Bring large pot of water to boil.
- Add pasta and 1 tbsp salt and cook according to package.
- Once cooked, save 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.
- While pasta is cooking, cook the chicken sausages in separate skillet over medium-high heat, according to package, until cooked. Mine took about 8 minutes.
- While pasta and sausage are cooking, you can also make the pesto.
- Make the pesto by adding almonds, parsley, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and salt to food processor.
- Pulse until very finely chopped.
- Add lemon juice and olive oil and pulse until well combined. You may have to scrape down the edges a couple of times to make sure the olive oil is evenly distributed.
- Once pasta and sausage are cooked, combine them in large pot.
- Add 1/3-1/2 cup of pesto and 2 tbsp of pasta water.
- Stir to combine well. Add more pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed. I added about 1/4 cup total just to moisten it a bit.
- Serve into pasta bowls and top with crumbled feta.