Easy pasta with sausage and peppers in a creamy sauce. Delicious for a weeknight or weekend entertaining, this is a quick pasta recipe that everyone loves! To add on, a quick green salad and no-knead bread made earlier in the day are really nice.
In college, I sang in an a cappella group.
It was pretty cool, and now I work in a cappella. (cool in the eye of the beholder, obviously)
ANYWAY, one of my group's friends from another school was from an Italian family, and he and his friends (correctly) thought that it was super cool and grown up to cook for singing folks that traveled to their college for concerts.
And that is how I learned this somewhat untraditional, Italian-American twist on Pasta with Sausage and Peppers.
The recipe is pretty much as you'd expect: sear some sausage, add some peppers and onions, build a sauce with tomatoes, done. It's very simple, and the end result is just a very yummy all-in-one pasta dinner that we absolutely love.
The twists are: a whole jalapeno pepper, thank you very much. Boiled AND seared sausage for extra crispy bits in the sauce, and sour cream at the very end for a tangy/creamy/cooling experience. The sour cream is REALLY good in this, and yes of course I agree it's not traditional Italian.
Pasta with Sausage and Peppers (Ingredients)
Verrry basic ingredients here. Some short pasta, Italian sausage, onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno, crushed tomatoes, parm, and sour cream. That sour cream, yes yes yes.
Ingredient Notes and Recipe Variations
- To make this not spicy, skip the jalapeno and use mild Italian sausage - it's still really good this way!
- Use any pasta you like - I like a short pasta because it "matches" the sausage and veggie pieces, but any pasta is yummy!
- If you don't have sour cream, heavy cream works great.
- You can sub whole tomatoes for the crushed - just crush them with your hands as you add them to the sauce so they break up nicely.
- Make this vegetarian by skipping the sausage and subbing a pint or two of sliced mushrooms - brown them at the beginning before adding the peppers and onions.
Step By Step Instructions
First, prep the sausage. To do this we're going to boil the sausage to cook it about halfway, THEN slice it and sear it so it gets nice and crispy. I like this method because it makes the sausage links a lot easier to slice before searing.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil (OR THE PASTA WATER, look at all the time you could save!) and drop the sausage links into the water for 5-7 minutes.
When the sausage has boiled, remove it to a plate to cool for just a minute or two - long enough for it to cool to the point that you can slice it thinly - about 5 pieces of sausage per link.
Timing Pro Tip: At this time, I start water to boil for the pasta, or drop the pasta into the water I used to boil the sausage. Set a timer, drain the pasta when it's al dente, working on the sauce the entire time.
Once the sausage has cooled and been sliced, preheat a large skillet to medium heat with a drizzle of oil. Add the sausage in one layer and sear it on both sides for 3-5 minutes.
When the sausage has seared, remove it to a plate to rest, and add the onions and peppers to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low if needed: the peppers should sizzle but not darken too quickly.
Now, we build our peppers and onions sauce!
- Let the peppers and onions soften, stirring them around to scrape up any sausage bits in the bottom of the pan.
- Add the garlic to the soft veggies and stir the garlic into the veg mixture for just one minute - the garlic should be fragrant but not brown.
- Add the tomatoes to the skillet with a sprinkle of salt and stir to combine: let the sauce simmer this way for 10-15 minutes to thicken and marry the flavors.
Now, at this point we have simmering sauce (adjust the heat as needed to keep it simmering but not violently bubbling), seared sausage, and cooked/drained pasta. When you drain the pasta, be sure to reserve a cup of cooking water right before draining.
To finish the dish, add the pasta, sour cream, parmesan, and seared sausage pieces to the peppers and onions sauce.
Stir everything together, taste for seasoning (almost always some more salt, maybe some more pepper), and serve! If the dish seems dry, splash in the reserved pasta water a few tablespoons at a time.
Aaaaaaand done. I can't go on enough (but I'll chill) about how seriously good this is. It's great year round, very easily customizeable to fit your needs, just really all the good stuff in one pasta dish.
Make Ahead and Storage/Leftover Notes
You could absolutely make the sauce in advance right up to the addition of the sour cream. To do this, do the sausage boiling/searing, and make the red sauce with the peppers. Add the sausage back to the sauce and store that. To serve, cook the pasta and reheat the sauce, then stir in the parmesan, sour cream, and cooked pasta right before serving.
Leftovers of this dish are SO GOOD in the fridge for at least 3 days, but I've had them in there up to a week and they've been delicious. I microwave leftovers, add more parm, and call it a day.
Enjoy this one, friends! You're welcome for being a nerdy singing girl in college. It allowed me to bring you this gem. Try it soon!
Pasta with Sausage and Peppers Recipe
- 16 ounces short pasta cooked to al dente with one cup of cooking water reserved
- 4 links spicy or mild italian sausage about one pound
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 jalapeno pepper thinly sliced
- 1 bell pepper any color, diced
- 1 small onion or half of a large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes or whole that you crush up....whatever
- ½ cup sour cream trust
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- parsley and parmesan cheese for serving
- Bring a large skillet filled with about 3 inches of water to a boil. (alternatively, you can do this step before you boil the pasta and use the same water) Add the sausage links and boil for 5 minutes until about halfway cooked through.
- Remove the water from the skillet and preheat the same skillet to medium heat with the olive oil. Slice the par-cooked sausage links on a diagonal into 4-5 pieces each.
- Add the sliced sausage to the olive oil and crisp for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the seared sausage from the skillet.
- To the same skillet, add the onion and peppers to the sausage drippings with a sprinkle of salt. Stir to cook the veggies until they are soft and lightly brown at the edges. Add the garlic and stir into the peppers and onion for one minute.
- Add the canned tomatoes with another sprinkle of salt and a splash of the pasta cooking water. Stir to combine and reduce the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes, tasting as you go for seasoning - the sauce should be very flavorful.
- When the sauce has simmered, add the pasta, sausage, sour cream, and parmesan to the skillet. Stir everything together, taste once more for seasoning, and serve! If the pasta seems dry, splash in a little more cooking water until you achieve a consistency that you like.
- Top with more parmesan and any fresh herbs you like right before serving. Enjoy!
This recipe was originally published in April 2012 and has been updated with better instructions and images.