It took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to post this recipe. Do you want to know something a little sad? This is one of the first recipes I ever developed. I made up this sausage & pepper pasta recipe when my husband and I first got married, and for the longest time, we would make it at least once a week because it was so darn easy—and cheap. And yet…I never posted it on the blog. I’m not really sure why I never posted it, I guess I was always so excited to develop new things. But I keep giving this recipe to all my friends and I don’t have an actual published version of it to share, so here we are.
This recipe is ridiculously easy. It’s one of those quick weeknight dinners that you’re going to want to turn to again and again. There are only six ingredients needed (pictured above). Plus a little salt and pepper, of course.
Not only is this an easy go-to recipe for us on weeknights, but it’s also unapologetically my husband’s favorite dish that I make. I swear he looks like the heart-eye emoji when I tell him I’m going to make this sausage & pepper pasta for dinner. I mean, we love this dish so much, we even gave it the nickname “sausage and pep.”
The recipe traditionally calls for pasta (duh) but I also love to eat make this with zoodles as well, if I’m feeling like eating something light for dinner. When you make this recipe, the sausage and pepper part of the pasta is all cooked first, then simmers in a sauce. You throw it on the pasta after, so it can easily be done with zoodles if you prefer. I simply follow this easy zoodle tutorial when I’m feeling it. I also will make this with other types of pasta like whole-wheat or chickpea (as pictured). But, to be honest, I wouldn’t make this with a black bean or lentil pasta.
One note about Italian sausage & sauce
If you can find ground hot Italian sausage in the grocery store, great! Grab it. But I have found in my many years of making this dish that ground sausage can actually be hard to come by. So you have to rely on buying the links.
There are a few companies (and even grocery stores) that sell hot Italian sausages in links. Five or 6 links tend to make up one pound of meat, but it can vary. Just make sure to check the package and look for packages that sell at least one pound of sausage.
If you end up with sausage links, simply slice open the sausage casing to get the meat. The casing easily slips off, and you can just toss it. I then ground up the sausage in the pan with a wooden spoon, or even break it apart with clean hands. These aren’t the type of sausages that you can slice into disks, they are usually a lot softer and are either meant to be cooked whole or ground up in a pan—like what we’ll do with this sausage and pepper pasta recipe.
Now, for the sauce. You honestly can use any jarred Italian tomato sauce you desire. We tend to go for Prego because it’s cheap and tasty, but I’m also a huge fan of Classico, Rao’s, or Muir Glen from my Imperfect Foods box. Marinara is an easy go-to, but any version of Tomato & Basil or Italian Sausage sauce also works well with this recipe.
Sausage & Pepper Pasta
- 8 oz. penne pasta regular, wheat, or chickpea
- 1 lb. ground Italian sausage sweet or hot
- 1 red bell pepper diced into bite-size pieces
- 1 green bell pepper diced into bite-size pieces
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 jar marinara sauce (24-28 oz.)
- Salt & pepper
- Parmesan cheese & red pepper flakes for topping, optional
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or the pasta is cooked to al dente. Drain.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat up a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sausage to the pan. Break it apart and cook for 5 minutes. Some oil and fat will release from the sausage—this is fine, leave it.
- Add the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and the onion to the pan with the sausage. Season with a dash of salt and pepper.
- Cook for another 5-7 minutes, until the veggies become soft and the sausage is completely cooked through.
- Pour in the jar of marinara sauce. Mix together and let the mixture completely heat through, until the sauce starts to bubble—about 2-3 minutes.
- You can either toss in the pasta in the skillet, or scoop some of the sausage mixture on beds of pasta already divvied into bowls.
- Top with grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes, if desired.
More easy weeknight dinner ideas
Because when it’s summer, the last thing I want to do is be in a hot kitchen cooking for hours!
- Healthier Fish & Chips
- Upgraded Chicken Ramen
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp in White Wine Sauce
- Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos
- Classic Cheeseburgers
- Cajun Shrimp Sheet Pan Dinner
- Lemon Garlic Vegetable Linguini
- Kale Parmesan Flatbread
- Creamy Chicken Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
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