Blessings on your kitchen! This One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta is a family pleaser and a beautiful gift to whomever has dish duty the night that you make it.
I do love Italian food. I love the herbs and spices, the wonderful sauces, the cheeses, the flavorful meats, the crusty breads and, of course, the pasta. Italian food seems so fresh and vibrant and alive. And now, because of this One-Skillet Italian Sausage and Pasta, I love that I can have a crowd-pleasing dinner on the table in under an hour.
Evolution of a Recipe
In truth, when I first started thinking about this recipe adventure, I was a bit intimidated by the concept of a “one-pot” dinner involving pasta. I wasn’t confident that it would work out well. To further my feelings of intimidation, I have had a series of recipe failures in the past few weeks. I’ll think that I have an idea that can’t possibly fail and then, kerflooey.
Sometimes a recipe fails because I don’t really know what I am doing. Other times a recipe fails because I have messed with it too much. Take the first version of this now excellent pasta dinner. Things were going well until, dunh-dunh-dunh, I added cream to the recipe. It was just too much of a good thing. I knew it would be, but I did it anyway because, well, I don’t know why. Que no era una buena idea.
The resulting dish was incredibly rich and filling. Three bites into the meal I had to push my plate away. Three bites and dinner was over. If I was busy at work, three-bites-and-I’m-full would be great on busy days, but typically at home, I want my dinner to last longer than 49 seconds.
Luckily, the second time around this one-dish pasta meal turned out beautimous — rich and hearty, super easy to make and it only took one pan. Actually, I used a ceramic coated cast iron braiser and it worked very well.
One of the fun outcomes from this project was finding a new favorite pasta shape, torchietti. Torchietti looks like calla lillies or maybe like a trumpet or, duh, like a torch. It holds up well with the robust sauce in this dish, offering just the right amount of pasta vs. sauce vs. meat in each bite.
I broke with my usual litany of Italian herbs and seasonings in the sauce and opted for a ready-mixed Italian herb blend. I really like The Spice Hunter® brand of herbs and spices and the same holds true for their herb and spice blends. No, I am not being paid to promote The Spice Hunter®; I am merely passing along a bit of helpful information. Friends help friends succeed in the kitchen.
As for the sausage, I used spicy Italian sausage. It was very flavorful, but I think that the next time around I will go with a milder Italian sausage. Whew! Mama mia, that was some kind of spicy!
For the tomatoes, be sure to use Italian plum tomatoes, especially if you can find canned San Marzano tomatoes. San Marzano is a variety of tomato, NOT a brand of canned tomatoes. They are meaty and very flavorful when cooked. Read the notes in the recipe for more information regarding using whole Italian plum tomatoes for this recipe.
One-Skillet Italian Sausage Pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage, mild or spicy, casings removed if applicable
- 1 large onion, medium diced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly across clove
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (I used The Spice Hunter®)
- 1 28 ounce can whole Italian plum tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken stock or broth
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces pasta, torchietti, penne, ziti or rigatoni recommended
- 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan
- 1 1/4 cups grated mozzarella
- small handful of torn, fresh basil leaves for garnish
Special Equipment: 5 1/2 quart braiser OR large skillet with lid
- Heat braiser or skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil, then sausage. Cook sausage for 3 minutes, breaking up while cooking.
- Lower heat to medium low. Add onion and mushrooms; cooking and stirring for one minute. Stir in garlic and Italian seasoning. Cover skillet and continue to cook until onion is translucent. Stir periodically.
- Crush tomatoes well by hand or with a potato masher (watch out, the tomatoes will squirt when crushed). An immersion blender can also be used to break up tomatoes; simply pulse it a few times. Add tomatoes and juice to ingredients in pan. Stir to combine. Add chicken stock (or broth) and salt. Stir well.
- Raise heat to medium and bring to a boil. Add pasta; stir well. Cover skillet and cook until pasta is almost al dente, stirring frequently to keep pasta from sticking to bottom of skillet or clumping together.
- Turn off heat and remove pan from burner. Gently stir in grated Parmesan until melted. Scatter mozzarella evenly over top. Place lid over skillet and allow mozzarella to melt, 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and serve immediately.
- Except for initially cooking the sausage, only cook this meal over medium or medium low heat. Cooking over higher heat will cause the ingredients to stick to the bottom of the pan and/or burn.
- Using whole tomatoes: It may seem counter intuitive to use whole Italian tomatoes and then crush them. There are several advantages in doing this:
- Italian plum tomatoes are more flavorful. The best Italian plum tomatoes are San Marzano. San Marzano is a variety of tomato, not a brand of tomato.
- You get to control the texture of the crushed tomatoes. There is more juice in the can of whole tomatoes which is needed in this particular recipe. The texture and amount of liquid is often unpredictable in canned, crushed tomatoes -- sometimes looking more like a thick tomato sauce and other times it can be thin and watery with a low amount of actual tomato. Additionally, with the canned crushed tomatoes, the tomatoes are often not the more flavorful Italian plum variety.
Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley
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