“Saucy” Italian Sausage and Peppers

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Being Italian it will come as no surprise that one of my top favorite foods, hands down, is sausage and peppers and it just so happens that I make a seriously kick ass version! What makes this meal so good is the way the meatiness of the sausage mingles so well with the flavors of the peppers and onions and when done right, it’s an absolutely perfect dish! Scoop it out onto some warm, fresh Italian bread and you have yourself an out of this world sandwich experience. 

I prefer to make my sausage and peppers with red sauce and well browned slices of sausage over one that is more on the oily side and served with a giant, full sausage link. I find the versions cooked in just oil to be a little flavorless plus, I am just not a fan of biting into a huge hunk of meat either. Therefore, I always brown my sausages first while they are whole, then I slice them fairly thin and throw them back into the pan until they are browned on both sides and slightly crispy. Once the sausage is cooked through I remove them, saute the veggies in the sausage fat, add the sausage back in, adjust the seasonings, and toss with tomato sauce. It’s perfect EVERY single time and it really is super easy to make!

Naturally, the key to any great meal is to start with great ingredients. Cheap, fatty, unseasoned sausage will do nothing but bring the dish down therefore, I always get my sausage at a high quality Italian deli in my area. The sausages are far more flavorful and leaner than anything you will find in the supermarket. Also, I highly recommend getting sweet sausage with fennel because it adds such a nice complexity to the overall flavor of the dish. However, if you’re really not a fan of fennel you can skip it and plain sweet sausage will be just as delicious but give the fennel a try, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Ingredients

  • 2.5 – 3 lbs of pork sausage with fennel
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and sliced into strips 
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 2 large sweet onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 10-12 oz of plain canned tomato sauce
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp of oregano
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Instructions

Drizzle about 2 tbs of olive oil into a pan and turn the heat to medium. Separate the sausage links by cutting the strings in between. Do not cut too close to the base of the sausage or you will slice the casing . When the oil is shimmering and the pan is hot add in the sausage. Cook the sausages, turning frequently, until they are browned on all sides, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove the sausage from the pan. Using a fork to hold each link steady slice it up into 1.5″ slices. Once all of the sausages are sliced, return them to the hot pan. Add in a little more oil as needed so they don’t stick and burn. Continue to cook the sausage slices until they are nicely browned on each side and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the pan, cover and set aside.

Add to the hot pan the peppers, garlic and onion. Saute them in the sausage fat, adding extra oil as needed, until they are tender and browned. Season them with Kosher salt, pepper, oregano, and the red pepper flakes. Once the veggies are done, add the sausage back into the pan along with the tomato sauce and heat through, stirring gently to combine. Adjust the seasonings as needed. If a “drier” sausage and peppers is preferred, use less tomato sauce and conversely, add more to make it moister. Serve hot.

**Tip** – Sausage and peppers is actually even better if made the day before serving because the flavors have a chance to mingle. To reheat simply place the pan of sausage and peppers in a 350 degree oven and stir occasionally until warmed through or heat on low in a Crock-Pot. 

Garlic Oil Pasta with Broccoli and Sausage

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This is my go to dinner when I need something quick and easy. It’s absolutely delicious, very versatile, and even my kids love it! The key to this dish is in the garlic preparation, you don’t want to just chop up raw garlic and toss it in or ((GASP)) use something like garlic powder. I always use fresh garlic and I cook it until is softens which allows it to take on a nice, mellow flavor that really enhances the flavor of the meal.

For every pound of pasta I use a full head of garlic however, if you like a more subtle or even stronger garlic flavor feel free to use less or more depending on your taste. You can also switch out the sausage for thinly sliced chicken or even mini meatballs.  Don’t like broccoli? Use spinach, zucchini, kale, or whatever produce you prefer.  I happen to love penne pasta but you can make this recipe with angel hair, spaghetti, rigatoni or any other pasta that suits you. You can really experiment and make this dish your own.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta, any
  • 1 lb sausage links (I like sweet sausage with fennel)
  • 1 head of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bag of broccoli florets (I like the Bird’s Eye Steam Bags)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves

Instructions

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente.

In the meantime, smash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife, give them a rough chop and add them to a small saucepan. Cover the garlic with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and turn the stove to medium high heat. Once the oil starts to bubble bring the heat down to low and let the garlic cook until slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the garlic infuse into the warmed oil.

Thinly slice the sausage or remove from the casings all together. Heat up a small pan on medium heat and drizzle a little olive oil in. Add the sausage and cook until nicely browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Set aside and reserve the cooking oil.

Remove the garlic from the oil and using kitchen sheers, mince up the softened garlic. Add the garlic back into the oil and then prepare the broccoli. Allow the broccoli to cool for a minute and then chop the stems and discard.

Drain the pasta and add to a large bowl. Tear a handful of basil leaves and toss them in along with the sausage, broccoli, grated cheese, and a pinch of red pepper. Drizzle in some of the oil from the sausage pan along with all of the garlic infused oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss until everything is evenly coated and combined. Adjust your seasonings, sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese, and serve hot.

**Note** – I always keep fresh basil on hand in my freezer. Buy a bunch of basil, tear off the leaves, wash, allow them to dry in between paper towels, and then toss them into a Ziploc bag and freeze. Whenever a recipe calls for fresh basil just grab what you need and crumble it right into whatever you’re cooking.

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