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Sausage and Peppers Pasta brings together bold flavors and textures in a restaurant-worthy dish that's surprisingly simple to make at home. In just 35 minutes, you can serve up a meal that's sure to impress. Combining the savory richness of Italian sausage with the sweetness of red and yellow bell peppers, this dish elevates a regular weeknight dinner into something special.
The balance in this recipe is key — whether you use sweet or hot Italian sausage, or a combination of both, the result is an easy-to-prepare dish that's deeply satisfying. Succulent crushed tomatoes and tender sweet peppers temper the heat of crushed red pepper flakes (adjustable to your taste), while dried oregano adds an herbaceous aroma. Topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of parsley, this pasta is a meal that everyone at your table will love.
Sausage and Peppers Pasta Ingredients
- Rigatoni: Choose a high-quality brand for the best texture and flavor.
- Olive Oil: Opt for extra-virgin olive oil for its rich, fruity taste.
- Italian Sausage: Select sweet, hot, or a mix of both, to suit your preference.
- Red and Yellow Bell Peppers: Look for firm peppers with smooth skin that are bright in color.
- Sweet Onion: Find an onion with a glossy appearance, tight skin, and no soft spots.
- Fresh Garlic: Use fresh cloves to achieve a robust flavor.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flake: Adjust the amount to your taste, especially if using hot Italian sausage.
- Canned Crushed Tomatoes: Be sure to include the the can juices for added moisture and a rich and robust tomato flavor in the sauce.
- Dried Oregano: Use Mediterranean oregano that hasn't lost it's aroma (a sign of freshness).
- Grated Parmesan Cheese: Use freshly grated cheese for the best flavor and texture.
- Fresh Parsley: Optional for garnish - if using, choose flat-leaf Italian parsley for a touch of color and freshness.
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Pasta Cooking: Make sure to cook the pasta until just al dente, tender but still firm to the bite. It will continue to cook a bit when you combine it with the sauce, so avoid overcooking it initially.
- Sausage Selection: Experiment with different types of Italian sausage to find your preferred balance of heat and flavor. Mixing sweet and hot sausage can create a unique and personalized taste.
- Pepper Preparation: Slice the bell peppers uniformly to ensure even cooking. Removing the seeds and membranes will reduce bitterness.
- Sauce Consistency: If your sauce thickens too much, don't hesitate to add some reserved pasta cooking water. It helps in adjusting the sauce's consistency without overly altering the flavor.
- Pasta Choices: Substitute rigatoni with penne pasta or farfalle pasta for a different texture and look.
- Tomato Variations: Add sun-dried tomatoes for an intensified, tangy flavor, in addition to the crushed tomatoes.
- Creaminess Factor: Incorporate a splash of heavy cream into the tomato sauce for a richer texture.
- Onion Options: Use yellow onion or white onion instead of sweet onion for a different flavor profile.
- Bell Pepper Variations: Mix and match with green bell pepper or orange bell pepper for different colors and subtle flavor changes.
- Herbal Enhancement: Add fresh basil for freshness and another layer of flavor.
- Sausage Substitution: Replace traditional Italian sausage with chicken sausage for a lighter option.
How to Store and Reheat
Store leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm the pasta over low heat in a saucepan on the stovetop, stirring occasionally until heated through. If the pasta appears dry, add a splash of water, broth, or reserved pasta water (if you've saved some) to restore moisture.
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How to Make Sausage and Peppers Pasta
Boil a pot of salted water and cook the pasta until al dente, then drain, reserving some cooking water.
In a large skillet, brown the sausage in heated oil and set aside.
In the same skillet, soften the bell peppers and onion, then add garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking briefly. Mix in the crushed tomatoes, oregano, and cooked sausage, and simmer until vegetables are tender and sauce thickens.
Combine with pasta, adding reserved water to adjust the sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl or individual portions, topped with parmesan and parsley.
Sausage and Peppers Pasta
- 12 ounces rigatoni or other short pasta
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage sweet, hot or ½ lb of each
- 1 medium red bell pepper sliced into thin strips (~¼-inch wide)
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper
- 1 medium sweet onion sliced into thin half-moons (~¼-inch wide)
- 3 large garlic cloves minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more (optional if using hot Italian sausage)
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes with juices
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese or more
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional
- Heat a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente (tender, but firm to the bite). Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook and stir until, breaking up with a spoon until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to clean plate; set aside.
- Add bell peppers and onion to same skillet; cook and stir until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, oregano and sausage; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes, until vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened. Add pasta and stir to combine, adding reserved pasta a tablespoon at a time as desired to loosen sauce; season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl or divide among individual bowls; sprinkle with parmesan cheese and garnish with parsley if desired; serve.