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Larry Crowe, Associated Press
Rotini With Lemon, Broccolini and Sausage can be prepared with a variety of ingredient substitutions without losing its great flavor.

Pasta tossed with heavily seasoned greens is an Italian classic that lends itself to easy weeknight improvisation.

Whatever ingredients you select, the basic formula is about the same. While the pasta boils, diced onion and minced garlic are sauteed with seasonings (red pepper flakes and anchovies are traditional choices).

Once the onions are lightly browned, greens are added. These can be as hardy (such as kale or even broccoli florets) or tender (baby spinach or chard) as desired.

Once the greens are wilted, the pasta is added to the skillet and tossed. A bit of Parmesan or pecorino is then mixed in, and you have an attractive, delicious meal.

And there are easy ways to add flavor and protein. A bit of bacon, prosciutto or chopped ham could be added at the same time as the onions. Or chopped cooked chicken would be great added along with the greens.

In this version, sweet Italian sausage, lemon juice and zest, Parmesan cheese and a splash of white wine add tons of flavor to this simple dish. Hot Italian sausages could be substituted if you like things spicier.

For a healthier version, use chicken sausages and whole-wheat pasta. Vegetarian sausages can be used for a meatless version or left out entirely.

ROTINI WITH LEMON, BROCCOLINI AND SAUSAGE

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

1 pound rotini pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup white wine

1 pound sweet Italian sausages, cut into small chunks

1 bunch broccolini, roughly chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and onion. Saute until the onion just begins to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add about half of the wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the sausage and cook until the meat is cooked through and browned. As the pan dries, add remaining wine and continue cooking.

Roughly chop the broccolini and add it to the skillet. Continue to saute until the broccolini has wilted. Add the pasta and toss to combine. Add the grated Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, then season with salt and pepper.

Divide the pasta onto serving plates, then top with shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition information per serving: 605 calories; 224 calories from fat; 25 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 50 mg cholesterol; 67 g carbohydrate; 29 g protein; 4 g fiber; 1,047 mg sodium.