Looking for something to warm you up on a cold winter day? Try this pasta dish with an easy tomato sauce. I selected red bell peppers both for presentation and flavor. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are all similar in flavor and referred to as “sweet” bell peppers, which is a nice contrast for the spice in this recipe. Green bell peppers have a slightly stronger, more bitter taste. Of all the colors, red peppers have the highest amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Beta Carotene. Feel free to substitute which ever color or color combination you prefer.
There are two options for adding heat to this recipe. The first is to use hot Italian sausages. The second is to use sweet Italian sausage or regular bulk sausage then add red pepper flakes to taste (from 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp, depending on your palate). The recipe below is shown using the hot Italian sausage. For the vinegar in this recipe, I used a flavored shallot vinegar, but nearly any variety will do: white wine, red wine, balsamic, or even apple cider in a pinch.
Spicy Sausage & Peppers Pasta
1 box (16 oz) short shaped pasta, such as penne
3/4 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1 pkg (8 oz) sliced mini bella mushrooms
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Cracked black pepper
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can (15 oz) low-sodium tomato sauce
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water, and return to pot. Toss pasta with olive oil, set aside and keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and break apart with a wooden spoon. Add mushrooms and a small amount of olive oil. Saute for 5 minutes, then add diced onion. Season with salt and pepper, then saute 3 minutes. Add red bell pepper and garlic (if using sweet or mild sausage, add red pepper flakes at this point). Saute 3-5 minutes, until peppers are crisp-tender. Add vinegar, oregano, and tomato sauce. Bring mixture to a boil and remove from heat.
Add sausage mixture to pasta and toss. If mixture is too dry, add pasta water a little at a time until sauce is desired consistency. Serve immediately.