February 4, 2023

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Simple Impartial Cooking

Sausage Pasta – Chelsea’s Messy Apron


Dinner

Dinner

 BesidesSausage Pasta is the ultimate comfort food! Italian sausage in a creamy tomato sauce with fresh baby spinach and tender pasta. Topped with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese–this dish is unbelievably good!

Try some of our other amazing sausage pasta recipes — this Creamy Sausage Pasta with sun-dried tomatoes is a fan-favorite. Next try this Summer Pasta with Italian sausage or this Corn And Sausage Pasta with smoked sausage. This Sausage Pasta Bake is all prepared and cooked in one pan–yes, even the pasta gets cooked this way!

Overhead image of the sausage pasta

Restaurant-Quality Italian Sausage Pasta Recipe!

We can’t get enough of this Italian sausage pasta! It’s ridiculously flavorful, ultra hearty and comforting– plus it’s fairly quick and easy to make.

In fact, this simple dinner can be ready in about 30-minutes and truly tastes restaurant quality. Thanks to the tomatoes and spinach that nicely balance out this dish, it tastes indulgent without feeling too heavy– especially when this dinner is paired with a big salad (such as this Garden Salad, Italian Salad, or Panzanella Salad).

VARIATIONS

Make a Spicy Sausage Pasta by adding a bit more red pepper flakes. Or sprinkle extra on individual plates for those that prefer more heat!

What Goes Well With Italian Sausage?

Besides the sausage, This recipe includes a creamy tomato-based sauce, pasta, and spinach.

Here’s a quick breakdown of a few ingredients worth mentioning in more detail:

  • Baby spinach: We recommend using baby spinach and giving it a quick coarse chop before adding. While the spinach doesn’t have to be chopped it does integrate better in the dish that way.
  • Parmesan cheese: For the perfect melt and to ensure the measurement is accurate (so the dish isn’t too salty), take a block of Parmesan cheese and grate it on the small holes of your cheese grater. Measure and add!
  • Half-and-half: This is a dairy product containing half cream and half milk–makes sense, right? It’s usually sold near the heavy cream and milk in the store.) If you can’t find half-and-half at your store, use equal parts heavy cream and milk. This keeps the pasta a little lighter while still ensuring it’s plenty tasty.

Process shots of Sausage Pasta-- images of the half and half, Parmesan cheese, and pasta being added into the dish

Using The Right Tomatoes In Sausage Pasta

It would make sense that crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce can stand in for tomato puree in this easy Sausage Pasta recipe. However, the three products are very different and won’t give you the same hearty, thick, and flavorful sauce we’re going after in this recipe.  

Here’s a quick break-down on the major differences:

  • Crushed/diced tomatoes: Both of these are types of canned tomatoes (crushed are smaller pieces than diced, but not smooth or blended).
  • Tomato sauce: Tomato sauce is thinner than tomato puree and often has seasonings added; it’s typically used as a base for other sauces. (Tomato sauce is not the same as pasta sauce/marinara which is usually sold as a finished product and has seasonings or veggies added in.)
  • Tomato puree: Puree is a very thick liquid, but not quite as thick as paste. The puree is made with tomatoes that have first been cooked and then strained.
  • Tomato paste: This is the most concentrated tomato product. To get the paste, tomatoes are cooked for hours to reduce the liquid content. A little goes a long way, which is why you’ll typically only use 1-3 tablespoons in a recipe.

QUICK TIP

If you aren’t able to locate tomato puree, you can create a workable substitute by combining equal parts water and tomato paste to the quantity of puree. This would be 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water mixed with 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon tomato paste)

Process shots-- images of the spinach being added and mixed in

Sausage Pasta FAQs

1What goes well with sausages?

Since this dish is so indulgent-tasting, it benefits from a nice light side; here are some of our favorites:

2Can you reheat sausage pasta?

Yes! We like to reheat gently on the stovetop, adding a splash of extra half and half or chicken broth to loosen up the sauce and bring back the creaminess.

3How long will Sausage Pasta last?

Leftovers will stay good for 3-5 days if stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

4What is the difference between pork sausage and Italian sausage?

The main difference is the seasoning that is added in.

Italian sausage generally is seasoned with oregano; sweet Italian uses basil; breakfast sausage uses sage.

Smoked sausage is already cooked.

5What is the best way to cook sausage?

Cooking and crumbling it in a skillet is a great way to cook the sausage. Not only can you get a nice sear (and resultant flavor), but you’ll also be left with beautiful “browned bits” which will get incorporated into the sauce making the dish that much more flavorful!

What are browned bits? This refers to caramelized remnants of meat that get left in the pan after the meat is cooked. They’re then “re-cooked” in wine/broth/other liquids helping them be absorbed into a the sauce or gravy and deliver a deeper and richer flavor

6Do you cut sausage before cooking?

There is no need; sausage can be nicely crumbled and broken apart while cooking.

7What vegetable goes with sausage?

We love just about any vegetable side dish with this meal. Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Carrots, or Roasted Brussels Sprouts would all be nice!

8How to cook Italian sausage for pasta?

  1. Start with Italian sausages with casings (or use ground Italian sausage and skip to step 3).
  2. Remove the casings and add the sausage right into pan.
  3. Let sear (by getting a sear we’re adding color; color = flavor!) and then continue to cook while breaking up with a wooden spoon.
  4. Once the sausage is nicely browned through and no longer pink, it’s cooked and ready for this pasta!

Up-close overhead image of Sausage Pasta ready to be enjoyed

STORAGE

Storage

As with most pasta dishes, Sausage Pasta is best enjoyed the minute the sauce is emulsified. (In fact, this is when all Italian-type pasta dishes taste their best!)

You can certainly store the leftover pasta with sausage, but will likely need to add some more half-and-half to loosen the sauce as you reheat. Leftover pasta will be softer, but still plenty flavorful. Because of the pasta and dairy in this dish, it isn’t a great candidate for freezing and thawing.

More Delicious Sausage Recipes:

Sausage Pasta

Sausage Pasta is the ultimate comfort food! Italian sausage in a creamy tomato sauce with fresh baby spinach and tender pasta. Topped with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese–this dish is unbeatable!

Sausage Pasta

Sausage Pasta is the ultimate comfort food! Italian sausage in a creamy tomato sauce with fresh baby spinach and tender pasta. Topped with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese–this dish is unbeatable!

Instructions

  • PASTA: Heads-up: you’ll want to save some pasta water before draining! Prepare pasta according to package directions subtracting 1 minute from lowest time indicated on package. Be sure to generously salt the boiling water (I add 1 tsp salt for every 4 cups of water). Before draining, scoop out a cup of water. Drain but don’t rinse in cold water.

  • SAUSAGE: Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large heavy bottom skillet (big enough to hold all the pasta later). Heat to medium-high heat and add in the sausage plus salt & pepper to taste (I add 1/2 teaspoon of each). Cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon until mostly browned through. Add in the minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.

  • ADD CHICKEN BROTH AND TOMATOES: Continue to cook until sausage is fully cooked through. Pour in 1/3 cup chicken broth and entire can of tomato puree. Cook, scraping the bottom of the skillet to release any browned bits and to slightly thicken, about 1-3 minutes.

  • SIMMER SAUCE: Reduce heat to low then add 1-1/2 cups half-and-half plus 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Stir gently until cheese is melted and then simmer until nicely thickened, about 3-5 minutes.

  • ADD IN PASTA: Dump in the hot drained pasta and toss to emulsify and coat the pasta generously in sauce. It may seem thin at first, but the sauce should thicken nicely and coat the pasta. If it gets too thick, add in a splash of reserved pasta water. After about a minute of tossing, add in baby spinach and toss (with tongs) just to wilt. Taste and adjust seasonings, I typically add another 1/4 up to 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. If desired, add in a splash (~1 tablespoon) red wine vinegar to balance flavors adding a nice touch of acidity.

  • ENJOY: Serve immediately! If desired, garnish plates with additional Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Sausage: Depending on personal preference, use mild or spicy sausage. For more heat (and flavor), use spicy sausage, and if you’re sensitive to spice use a mild or sweet sausage instead. If some of your guests want more spice and others don’t, use mild sausage and serve red pepper flakes on the side! Remove sausage casings before adding to the skillet.
Note 2Tomato puree: Tomato puree is much more concentrated than tomato sauce, diced, or crushed tomatoes. Be sure to use puree not other tomato products. If you can’t find puree, add an entire 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste plus 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water.
Note 3: Half-and-half: This is a dairy product containing half cream and half milk. It’s usually sold right next to heavy cream and milk in the store. If you can’t find half-and-half at your store, use equal parts heavy cream and milk. 

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 1091kcal | Carbohydrates: 100g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 58g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 1262mg | Potassium: 1261mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 3679IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 281mg | Iron: 6mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.