Sweet & Spicy Broccolini, Spinach, and Sausage

On weekends when we don't have any plans, my husband and I usually sleep in, waking up sometime around 11 or 12 when our bodies naturally pull us out of dreamland. Eugene wakes up ready to eat, often heading into the kitchen to scrounge himself up something. He'll have an egg or yogurt or some leftover cake or a simple sandwich of turkey or salami on whole wheat bread. I'm a bit slower those mornings, preferring to languish in bed finishing up the last few pages of a book or read through blog posts while sipping lemon water. It usually takes me about an hour or so to finally go into the kitchen and figure out breakfast (lunch, really, at this point).

But the thing is that unlike Eugene, I'm never really satisfied with just an egg or a simple sandwich, and so I'll emerge 15 or 20 minutes later with some kind of elaborate meal--a fluffy omelet filled with sauteed vegetables and goat cheese or a quesadilla topped with cumin-scented yogurt and chipotle hot sauce or a bowl of quinoa tossed with shrimp in a lemony dressing.

"Ohhh...I HATE this!" Eugene always says. "You always go and make yourself something amazing after I've already eaten. It's not fair."

"Well, you can just wait for me," I point out.

This past weekend was just like this. Eugene woke up and made himself a salami sandwich (whole wheat bread, mayo, a few slices of salami) and ate it while watching football. And then I emerged with the bowl above--sweet and spicy sauteed broccolini and spinach with hot Italian sausage topped with large shavings of pecorino.

"Want some?" I asked as I waved the bowl teasingly before him.

"Oh whatever," he said, turning back to the game.

This easy dish took me all of 15 minutes to prepare and would be easy to customize depending on the vegetables you have in your fridge. (I used the sausage leftover from last week's creamy sausage, mushroom, and pasta dish.) You can also use regular broccoli, escarole, broccoli rabe, or even kale; in the spring you can add green beans or asparagus. It only uses a tiny bit of real maple syrup to sweeten it, but the contrast between the spicy and tiny hint of sweetness is absolutely perfect!

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Sweet & Spicy Broccolini, Spinach, and Sausage

Print this Recipe

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 pound hot Italian sausage (substitute turkey or chicken sausage, if desired), out of the casing and crumbled
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth1 bunch broccolini, washed and cut into 1" pieces
1 pound spinach, washed, trimmed, and chopped into 2" thick ribbons (or use baby spinach)
Kosher salt and black pepper
Wedge of lemon
Pecorino cheese shavings (use a potato peeler to peel off the cheese)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet or pot with a lid and add crumbled sausage. Saute for about 2-3 minutes or until sausage is browned.

Add the maple syrup, red pepper, and chicken broth and stir to combine. Add the chopped broccolini and spinach, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover. Let cook for about 3 minutes or until the spinach has wilted and the broccolini has turned bright green. Remove the lid and let continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to combine, until the liquid has almost entirely reduced and the broccolini is tender.

Season with kosher salt and black pepper, to taste. Serve immediately garnished with pecorino cheese shavings and a lemon wedge.

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