Ever go a bit overboard when processing your wild game and end up with more than you actually bargained for? That’s what happened when processing my elk: I ended up with a mountain of sausage – more than I’d ever eat myself, even after distributing quite a bit among friends. At the same time, with my foster boys having 4-H Archery classes in town, I needed a quick, hearty meal that was portable and could be enjoyed both hot and cold.
This Elk Sausage & Garden Rotini recipe was born out of necessity. This versatile dish is a fantastic way to use up ground sausage, whether it’s from wild game or a domestic source. Quick and easy, it’s ready in about 30 minutes and leaves you with plenty of leftovers for later.
How to Make Elk Sausage & Garden Rotini
Start by lightly salting a pot of water and bringing it to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add your pasta and cook it until it’s slightly al dente. When done, drain it and set it aside. While the pasta is boiling away, you can get started on the rest of the recipe. You can use pretty much any short-cut pasta with this recipe. I just prefer the earthiness of the garden rotini and like the added splash of color in the dish.
Grab a large skillet; I prefer using a deep cast iron pan because, well, I’m not a communist, and it’s big enough to mix the whole dish at the end. Place it over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. The amount of oil you need will depend on the fat content of the sausage you’re using. For store-bought sausage, I find that I need to use significantly less olive oil than with my wild game sausage. Adjust it based on the fat content of your sausage.
Now, let’s get that sausage sizzling. If you’re using sausages in casings, remove the casings and tear the sausage into chunks. Break it up and cook it in the pan until it’s almost completely browned. Season with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.
Time to add the aromatic magic to the dish. Add the garlic to the pan and keep stirring, making sure nothing burns. You’ll know it’s ready when the garlic becomes soft and releases that irresistible fragrance. I prefer using diced garlic, but you can slice, dice or crush it as your heart desires.
Let’s add some zest to this mix. Toss in the canned tomatoes along with their juice, followed by the sliced black olives, fresh baby spinach, and basil. When it comes to red pepper flakes, use your discretion based on your pallet and how spicy your sausage is. Don’t forget to sprinkle in some extra salt and pepper as required. When possible, I like to use fresh basil from the garden. But in a pinch, dried basil will work. If using dried basil, just reduce the amount to about a third.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the flavors meld together. Keep stirring until the tomatoes have softened and the spinach has cooked down into the mix. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Finally, drop the drained pasta into the skillet and mix everything together thoroughly.
All that’s left now is to savor the fruits of your labor. Scoop out a generous portion, garnish with a touch of basil if you like, and dig in. Whether you’re enjoying it hot right out of the pan or as cold leftovers straight from. the fridge, this Elk Sausage & Garden Rotini is an absolute winner
Elk Sausage & Garden Rotini
This Elk Sausage & Garden Rotini recipe is a delicious and hearty way to use up excess ground sausage, whether it’s from wild game or domestic sources. It’s a quick, 30-minute meal that yields plenty of leftovers, perfect for on-the-go or enjoying later.
Lightly salt a pot of water and bring to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside when done. While boiling, continue with the rest of the recipe.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Break up the sausage in the pan until you can’t see any pink. When the sausage is almost all browned, add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant.If using sausage in casings, remove the casings and break apart into small chunks. You may need to adjust the amount of oil used per the fat content of the sausage you're using.
Add canned tomatoes, sliced black olives, baby spinach and basil. Add Red Pepper flakes to taste for additional heat. Reduce the burner to medium-low and stir until tomatoes have softened and spinach has cooked down.When adding red pepper flakes makes sure to take into account how spicy your sausage is.
Add the drained pasta to the meat sauce and mix thoroughly.