Penne with Walnuts & Italian Sausage

Penne with Walnuts & Italian Sausage

Breadcrumbs and lemon zest offer a perfect finish for this hearty pasta dish that is sure to become a weeknight favorite.


  • 8 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
  • 4 quarts boiling water, salted
  • 6 ounces spicy Italian sausage (removed from casings)
  • 4 ounces California walnuts, quartered
  • 1 medium spring onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups chicken stock, low-sodium
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Walnut Panko Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup California walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup panko, breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt to taste


  1. Sauté sausage in olive oil breaking up into pieces until it is cooked through and browned—about 5 minutes. Then add the walnuts, spring onion, carrots and garlic. Continue cooking for approximately 3 minutes. Next deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and reduce by half.
  2. While the sausage mixture is cooking, begin cooking the whole-wheat penne. Place pasta in salted boiling water for 7-8 minutes. It should be cooked about 3/4 of the way, then add it to the sausage mixture and cook for another 4 minutes at a simmer.
  3. ​Walnut Panko topping: In a sauté pan add the butter and olive oil on medium-high heat. Next add the walnut and panko. Saute while mixing constantly for about 4 minutes, until the panko breadcrumbs turn a golden brown. Remove from heat, add the lemon zest and then top the pasta with the breadcrumb mixture.