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A 30-minute recipe: Italian sausage pasta recipe! This quick sausage pasta combines your favorite dried pasta with a light, creamy sauce, Italian sausage, tangy sun-dried tomatoes and perfectly tender broccolini. A family favorite one-dish dinner.
This pasta recipe with ground sausage is my dream of a perfect one-dish dinner, ready in 30-minutes. It’s right up there with another of my favorite pantry pasta recipes, chicken pesto pasta that cooks in 10 minutes. I promise you’ll be wanting to make this delicious recipe over and over!
The pasta is coated in a lightly creamy sauce that’s full of flavor, with chunky bits of sausage, tangy-sweet sun-dried tomatoes and super-green, vitamin-packed quick-cooking broccolini.
Bowtie pasta is an excellent all-around family-favorite shape. One of the best short noodle shapes, it resembles little bows or butterflies, and both kids and adults find them charming.
That’s why in Italian the pasta is called farfalle, which literally translates to “butterflies.” There’s no difference between farfalle pasta and bowties, they are exactly the same pasta shape.
Aside from being cute AF, bow ties are a great shape for a range of homemade pasta dinners, with different sauces and salads. The scalloped edges look pretty, but they also add a pleasant texture.
And the distinctive pinch in the middle of the bow tie forms two little cups that are the perfect vehicle for sauce, cheese — basically all the yum.
Cooking dried pasta
It’s usually good practice to follow the package directions for your brand of pasta when you’re wondering how long to cook it. Different pasta shapes have varied cooking times.
Bowties can typically take anywhere from 11-13 minutes to cook. But wait! In this recipe I actually want you to undercook the pasta just a little bit, as you would if making a pasta salad.
The reason is that the almost-cooked, al dente pasta — which I calculated to be 8 minutes in boiling water —will finish cooking after you toss it in the sauce.
Not only does the pasta reach al dente perfection, but the starch in the pasta helps bind the sauce. Try it and you’ll be like WOW (that’s what I said the first time I tried this method).
What you need to make the recipe:
- Italian sausage: Look for uncooked Italian-style seasoned sausage. You want to remove the casings or ask the butcher/meat counter to do it for you. Many stores seem to be packaging bulk sausage in all kinds of flavors. That makes this recipe even more convenient to make! Don’t eat meat? You can substitute an Italian-flavored vegetarian sausage.
- Broccolini: Get one large bunch (weighing about 12 ounces) or two small bunches. You can also easily use the same amount of bite-size broccoli florets (frozen ones are fine).
- Sun-dried tomatoes: I highly recommend dry-packed tomatoes that have a soft, pliable texture and a bright red color. To me they taste brighter and fresher and are easy to chew! Yes, you can definitely use oil-packed tomatoes if that’s what you have. Make sure you drain them well and pat dry with a clean towel before cooking.
- Dried pasta: You’ll need 12 ounces of dried pasta for this recipe, such as penne, bow ties or rigatoni.
- Chicken broth: Choose a lower/reduced sodium one.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated is the best!
- Red pepper flakes: Adjust the amount to suit your taste.
- Heavy cream
- Yellow onion and minced garlic
Once you do a few minutes of prep which involves slicing onion, dried tomatoes and trimming the broccolini stems you’re ready to get cooking.
- Cook the pasta: Put your pot or large saucepan of pasta water on the stove to boil and season with the correct amount of salt.
- Heat the olive oil in a wide shallow pan or large skillet that will be large enough to hold all the food. I LOVE using my enameled cast iron everyday braiser pan shown in the photo! Just be sure it’s 12-inches or more in diameter and about 3-inches deep.
- Cook the sausage, then scoop it out to a plate, keeping the good, tasty fat in the pan for softening the onion. Add the sausage back in along with the remaining ingredients and simmer while the pasta cooks.
- Drain pasta and add to the pan. Cook at a gentle simmer 5-8 minutes, just until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Serve hot and enjoy with more grated Parm if you like!
More 30-minute pasta recipes:
- Mushroom Spinach Pasta
- Pappardelle with Portobello Mushroom Ragu
- Pasta with Roasted Delicata Squash and Greens
30-Minute Italian Sausage Pasta
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound (450 g) uncooked Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
- Kosher salt
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½-1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, to taste
- ½ cup (55 g) moist sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
- 2 cups (480 ml) chicken broth
- 1 bunch broccolini , stems trimmed, sliced into bite-size pieces
- 12 ounces (330 g) dried short pasta, such as penne, bowties or rigatoni
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
- ¼ cup (25 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to the water so that it tastes like the sea — 2-3 tablespoons per 4 quarts of water.
- Place a wide pan (large enough for the pasta and sauce) over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil. Stir in the sausage and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, breaking up the chunks with a spoon.
- Transfer the meat to a plate with a slotted spoon (this will help keep the cooking fat in the pan). Add the onion to the pan along with a splash of water, stirring to release any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook 1-2 minutes, until softened.
- Stir in the ½ teaspoon salt, garlic, chili flakes and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook a few seconds, just until you can smell the garlic. Add the sausage back to the pan along with the broth and stir together. Bring the sauce to a simmer while you cook the pasta.
- Cook the pasta in the boiling water for exactly 8 minutes. Set the timer! You want the pasta undercooked a tiny bit because it's going to finish cooking in the sauce. Add the broccolini to the boiling water about 30 seconds before draining.
- Add the pasta, broccolini, cream and Parmesan to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high and simmer 5-8 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
- Serve warm in bowls, topped with additional Parmesan cheese if you like.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
Tips and storage:
- Broccolini: Get one large bunch weighing about 12 ounces, or two small bunches. You can also easily use the same amount of bite-size broccoli florets (frozen ones are fine).
- If you use oil-packed tomatoes instead of dry-packed, be sure to completely drain and blot them dry so the sauce is not too oily.
- Bulk sausage is often sold at the meat counter.
- For a vegetarian recipe, use your favorite Italian-style veggie sausage. Instead of browning the meat as in Step 2, cook the onion first then add your sausage with the tomatoes as in Step 3.
- To store: Refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to one month. Reheat with a tablespoon of liquid for each serving (such as broth, water, or cream).