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Mushroom and “sausage” pasta with kale pesto

“Decanted” Dave Adams
Wine Pairings: Pinot Grigio

Sauvignon Blanc

A savory twist on a traditional pesto sauce makes a crisp white wine an easy choice with this dish


Savvy match: This mushroom and sausage pasta recipe features a bright, fresh, and savory twist on a traditional pesto sauce that will pair well with dry, crisp, grassy white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and mirrors their sometimes tart citrus flavors with a hint of lemon. 

BTW: I realize that a vegetarian recipe with the word “sausage” doesn’t sound very vegetarian, but the idea is to use your favorite plant-based sausage. Meat eaters … you be you. This recipe is mostly veg, and honestly, this would probably work just as well with no sausage of any kind since the mushrooms take on a chewy, meaty quality of their own. 

The kale pesto featured with this mushroom and sausage pasta is quite excellent made vegan. However, this sauce relies on at least one hippie-dippy ingredient: nutritional yeast, which is increasingly easy to find at many groceries, occasionally in the “health food” section. Can’t score the yeast and don’t care to go vegan? Sub with ¼ cup of freshly grated parmesan, Romano, pecorino, or any hard-aged cheese of that variety (but please run in terror at the sight of the canned, powdered stuff, you deserve better)! 

P.S. I use walnuts in this pesto, but if you’ve got the Benjamin’s to pop for pine-nuts instead, then live your best life and toss those babies in the food processor. This pesto is also relatively low on oil, but high on raw garlic, which depending on your taste, might be a bit too intense for some palettes. Feel free to swap with about 3X more of roasted garlic instead, which adds a deep, mellow flavor (but won’t be as effective in warding off vampires).


  • Four sausages (or about one per person)
  • 1 pound oyster mushrooms
  • 1 pound of brown cremini or shiitake mushrooms or a mix of both
  • 1 large leek
  • 16 ounces of pasta (I love rigatoni or penne for this dish)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (light, cheaper olive oil is fine for this stage)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup white wine for deglazing the pan 
  For the pesto:
  • 4-5 cups of baby kale (or common curly kale with stems removed, sauteed for a couple of minutes in olive oil to soften a bit)
  • Three large cloves of raw garlic, minced (or 8-10 roasted)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (this is where to deploy the higher-quality oil)
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup walnuts or pine nuts
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon of salt or more to taste
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste



Add all pesto ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse just until they become a smooth paste. If it’s too thick, scrape the sides and add small amounts of vegetable broth to thin as needed.


Clean and thickly slice the crimini and or shiitake mushrooms. Next, clean and tear the oyster mushrooms into bite-sized pieces or roughly chop.


Remove the root end and darker, tougher leaves from the leek. Cut the leek in half lengthwise, clean thoroughly under running tap water to remove any grit, and slice into ¼ inch chunks.


Slice the sausages into ¼ inch rounds, brown them on both sides on medium heat in a large skillet, remove and set aside, leaving a little sausage grease in the pan (about one tablespoon).


In the still-hot pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a batch of mushrooms, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Saute, turning regularly, until mushroom liquid has evaporated and they’ve begun to brown. (Pro tip: occasionally reduce the heat if the pan starts getting too hot to avoid burning; you can always adjust the heat back up if needed.) Toss in a pinch of salt and pepper, remove from the pan, and set aside. Repeat this process until all the mushrooms are all cooked and set aside.


Add leeks and another tablespoon of oil to the still-hot pan and season with salt and pepper as desired. Once the leeks have softened and browned, return all the mushrooms to the pan and add the red pepper flakes. Deglaze the pan with about ¼ cup dry white wine, scraping up the brown bits left by the sausage, mushrooms and leeks. Once combined, take the pan off the heat and set aside.


While sautéing the leeks, cook the pasta according to package instructions or taste (I prefer it a little al dente since then the pasta will be less likely to fall apart when tossed with the other ingredients).


Once the pasta has cooked, turn off the burner, drain into a colander and immediately add to the mushroom and leek pan, still a little wet with starchy pasta water. Add the pesto to the pan and toss everything together. 


Mound the tossed pasta onto plates or bowls, garnish with the reserved sausage slices and a pinch of lemon zest on top of each serving, plus shaved parmesan if desired.

Chef Image

About “Decanted” Dave Adams

Dave Adams is not a professional chef but is a devoted home cook who strives to make memorable vegetarian and vegan meals that appeal to the people who populate his life, including adults and children. Dave is a "Negan" (nearly vegan), so vegans, please don't lose your mind if he recommends butter or cheese now and again. Since Dave is also a "wanna-be wine snob" and co-hosts the Decanted Wine Podcast (, food and wine pairing is an essential component of his lifestyle. Dave is also dedicated to the art of "Dad jokes," to the bemusement of everyone in his household.