Rather simple and admittedly un-fancy, our Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta doesn’t have to be the most sophisticated gal on the block because what it IS, is delicious, quick-cooking and made with easy-to-find inexpensive ingredients.
Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta
Between early gift shopping (Are you as hyped up about the supply chain issues as we are?), holiday activities, wrapping presents, school functions and everything in between, a quick cozy dinner is exactly what we need.
This version of sausage and peppers is a riff on something my Mom made growing up. I can’t remember exactly what it entailed but I do remember big juicy pieces of sausage studded with sweet bell peppers and a vibrant tomato sauce. Today, we’re cooking whole Italian sausage links alongside vibrant yellow and red bell peppers, onion and garlic. We simmer the sweet peppers and salty sausage with a version of our go-to marinara sauce until the peppers are super sweet and soft and the Italian sausage is cooked through.
We’re a pasta family so we toss everything with aldente short-cut noodles but you could also stuff the Italian sausage and peppers into crusty hoagies and smother them with provolone cheese for the perfect sandwich. Also perfectly acceptable, simply serving them with a crusty baguette and sopping up all the sauce.
Ingredients in Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta
Italian sausage. My kids are not big into spicy things so whenever I cook with Italian sausage, I usually use a sweet Italian sausage. Whatever your go-to is works great. You could also use turkey or chicken sausage if you want to cut the calories and fat down a bit.
Veggies. We use a combo of red and yellow bell peppers along with sweet onion. I like to use the red and yellow peppers not only for their vibrant color but also because they tend to be a little bit sweeter than a green bell pepper. Use whatever you have on hand though.
Wine. You want to use any good quality red wine. Anything in the cab, merlot or pinot noir department will work great.
Tomato paste. I like to use a little bit of tomato paste here to give some sturdiness and concentrated tomato flavor to the recipe. I always keep a tube of this in the fridge for these times when I only need to use a little bit.
Tomato sauce. I typically skip tomato sauce in favor of crushed tomatoes but all I had was tomato sauce in the pantry so that’s what I went with. The results were wonderful.
Spices. We stick with tradition here – plenty of dried basil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Pasta. Any short cut pasta will do here. We used penne but rigatoni would also work great.
Cheese. What is pasta without cheese? We throw in a handful (or two) of parmigiano reggiano.
Let’s make Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta
Boil water. I always start any pasta dish out with boiling the water. I like having it ready to go when I need to dump my noodles in.
Brown the sausage. Because cased Italian sausage doesn’t cut well until it’s par-cooked or cooked though, I like to brown the sausages first, let them set and then sliced them into big pieces. Add just a touch of olive oil to a large skillet or pan with high sides and brown then over a medium-high heat until all sides are crisp and brown.
Cook the peppers. Add the peppers and onions along with some olive oil to the same skillet you cooked the sausage in. Let them sauté for a few minutes until they’re soft. At this point I like to move the veggies to the side and then add the par-cooked sausage back to the pan to cook more.
Make the sauce. When the veggies are soft, add in the red wine. Simmer for a few minutes until it reduces a bit. Add the tomato paste. Tomato paste can sometimes have a raw taste to it so I always wake it up for a few minutes over the heat before adding anything else.
Once the tomato paste has cooked for a few minutes, add the tomato sauce and spices. Let everything simmer while you cook the pasta.
Cook the pasta. Drop the pasta into the boiling water. Make sure you cook it until it’s slightly under aldente. Because it will cook more in the sauce you want it to have a nice bite to it. Add the pasta along with some pasta water to the sausages and peppers and toss until everything is coated. Sprinkle in the parmesan cheese, toss and serve!
Can I make this in advance?
Yes! Again, be sure to UNDERCOOK your pasta and save some of that starchy pasta water when you reheat it. The leftovers are spectacular.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Feel free to swap out your favorite Italian sausage. To cut back on calories and fat use chicken or turkey sausage.
- If you don’t have tomato sauce, you can also use crushed tomatoes.
- Use penne, ziti or rigatoni.
- For heat, add in 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.
- Don’t over cook the pasta!
- If you only have white wine on hand, that’s totally fine.
Other Quick and Easy Dinners You’ll Love
- This Chicken Piccata is a classic and so easy to prepare on busy weeknights.
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- Our One Pot Turkey Mexican Pasta is a reader favorite for reason – don’t miss it!.
- 1 lb Italian sausage links
- 2 large bell peppers (we like to use yellow, red or orange), sliced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 14 oz can tomato sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 lb penne or other short cut pasta
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- pasta water
- Large skillet
- large pot
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, season with salt.
- Heat a large skillet with high sides to a medium-high heat. Drizzle in two teaspoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausages. Brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining two teaspoons olive oil to the pan. Add the peppers, onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Saute the veggies for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften.
- Let the sausage rest for a few minutes while the veggies cook and then slice the sausages into 1-2 inch pieces (the size is a personal preference). Push the veggies to the side and add the sausage back to the pan. Continue to sauté the veggies until they are soft, another 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for one minute.
- Add the red wine to the pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the wine is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Cook for one minute.
- Drop the pasta into the boiling water.
- Stir the tomato sauce into the veggie mixture along with the sugar, remaining salt, garlic powder and basil. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the pasta is done or the sausage is cooked through, whichever comes first. Turn on the heat.
- When the pasta is just under aldente (it should have a good bite to it but not be crunchy), use a sieve to transfer the pasta to the sauce. Reserve pasta water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, veggies and sausage. Add 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss again. Add in parmesan cheese. Toss until the cheese has melted. If needed, add more pasta water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.