One of my favorite items on the Olive Garden menu was Sausage and Peppers Rustica. I am pretty sure they don’t have it anymore, but it’s a simple idea. Pretty much you saute sausage, peppers, and onions, and then mix that in with pasta in tomato sauce. It’s almost like fajitas meets Italian.
I really like the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sausage Spaghetti recipe I created, but it is REALLY spicy. I don’t love spicy so much, and I am almost afraid to give it to Libbie–although she seems more tolerant of spicy things than I am!
This is a combination of that recipe and the Olive Garden classic, and I think it turned out wonderfully. Serve with a simple green salad and shave some Parmesan over the top of the pasta.
Chicken Sausage and Peppers Rustica
8 ounces pasta – I used whole wheat fusilli
15 oz. diced tomatoes
10 oz. diced tomatoes with green chiles, such as Ro-Tel (mild)
1 clove garlic
1 T sugar
1 package apple chicken sausage, such as Aidells
1 large green pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, shaved (optional)
Boil pasta according to package directions in salted water. Drain and set aside when done.
In a medium saucepan, bring tomatoes (with juices) to a boil. Grate the garlic clove into the tomatoes. Add sugar. Reduce to medium heat and let simmer while you cook the sausage and peppers.
Slice sausage on the bias into bite-size pieces.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add peppers, onions, and sausage. Saute until everything is happy and brown. (After all, brown food tastes good. At least that’s what Chef Anne always says.) Season with salt and pepper.
Remove tomato sauce from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend somewhat, leaving some chunks of tomato. Pour into sausage/pepper pan and toss well. Add pasta and combine.
Serve with Parmesan shavings on top, if desired.
Variation: Transfer to a baking dish and top with slices of fresh mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 until cheese is brown and bubbly.