My delicious chicken sausage pasta is a light, bright and healthy pasta dish prepared with loads of bold, flavorful ingredients. Whole wheat penne is tossed together with a zesty, homemade tomato sauce prepared with roasted garlic, diced chicken sausage and herbs, then spooned into a bowl and finished with a sprinkle of seasoned, toasted breadcrumbs!
A Light and Flavorful Bowl of Pasta
While a rich, decadent pasta dish, drenched in a creamy sauce, most certainly has its glorious place at the dinner table, there are times when nothing entices me more than a light, zippy and bold bowl of pasta prepared with healthy ingredients.
For a meal such as this, I like to prepare my chicken sausage pasta. To prepare, I make a homemade tomato sauce brimming with the flavors of sweet and earthy roasted garlic, the savoriness of spicy chicken sausage, and the aromatics of fresh herbs to tickle my palate.
And when that mouthwatering sauce is folded together with whole wheat penne pasta, it's a little bliss in a bowl, and a nice healthy dinner I can feel good about enjoying.
My chicken sausage pasta is just the type of recipe that beckons when I'm craving something on the lighter side, yet still satisfying as well as nutritious, and easy to prepare with just a handful of simple, nourishing ingredients.
Chicken Sausage Pasta Packed with Flavor
This delicious pasta recipe is all about the zesty sauce brimming with mildly spicy chicken sausage. It brings that pop of tangy flavor that I love, especially when paired with whole wheat penne.
While I do opt for the whole wheat penne pasta here, you can substitute any pasta you prefer, from traditional pasta to your favorite gluten-free variety.
What I love about this sauce is that while it is rich in flavor, it isn't complicated to prepare or long to simmer, and doesn't call for a super long list of ingredients. It does call for roasting several heads of garlic, but the process is beyond easy and lends so much flavor!
Here's a sneak peek at my chicken sausage pasta recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I roast my garlic and once cool enough to handle, I squeeze the cloves from their papers, smash them with a fork to create a paste, and set aside.
- Next, I prepare my zesty and light tomato sauce by first sautéing my diced chicken sausage, then adding in my aromatic ingredients and tomato products, and finally simmering the sauce for about 20 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, I cook my penne according to package instructions, then drain and hold warm.
- I toast my breadcrumbs with some seasonings in a pan for a minute or two for my topping, and set those aside.
- To serve, I toss and fold the penne with my sauce directly in the pan, then spoon into bowls and garnish with some of my fragrant breadcrumbs, and enjoy.
Chicken Sausage Pasta
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 602 calories per serving
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- 3 heads garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
- 4 links spicy Italian chicken sausage, diced into small cubes
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 (14.5 ounce) cans organic, diced tomatoes (with juices)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 ounces (half a package) uncooked whole wheat penne pasta
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped, divided use
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil leaves
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of the ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have them organized and ready for use.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and prepare 3 small squares of foil for garlic heads.
- Cut the tops off of the 3 heads of garlic, drizzle each with about 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Wrap each garlic head tightly in a small piece of foil, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, unwrap the heads and allow to cool, then squeeze the cloves from the papers and smash lightly with a fork to form a paste; set aside to use in sauce.
- In a large, heavy-bottom pan or pot, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; once hot, add the diced chicken sausage and cook until golden-brown; then, add the diced onion and sauté for about 2 minutes. Now, add the garlic, the Italian seasoning, the oregano and the pinch of red pepper flakes, and give a stir, allowing to become aromatic.
- Once aromatic, add the red wine and deglaze the pan, gently scraping all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan; then, stir in the tomato paste and allow it to cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to cook out the raw flavor.
- Add in the diced tomatoes with juices, the reserved roasted garlic paste, a couple of good pinches of salt and the black pepper, and allow the sauce to simmer, slightly covered, for about 20 minutes.
- Prepare the penne pasta according to package instructions; then, drain and keep warm.
- While penne cooks and sauce simmers, combine the panko breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small bowl, and use your fingers or a fork to incorporate together. In a small pan set over medium-low heat, add the breadcrumbs and toast, continually stirring, for about 1-2 minutes being careful not to burn the breadcrumbs.
- Once the breadcrumbs are golden brown, remove from the pan and add back into the small dish; add the lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley and the grated parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs, combine well with your fingers of a fork, then set aside to use as a garnish/topping for pasta.
- To finish the sauce, turn heat off and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley and 1 tablespoon of the chopped basil; next, add the warm, cooked penne directly into the sauce, and toss to coat. (Alternately, you can spoon the sauce over top of the penne.)
- To serve, spoon the chicken sausage pasta into a bowl, and garnish with about 2-3 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs, and a sprinkling of the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped basil.
Tips & Tidbits for my Chicken Sausage Pasta:
- Spicy or sweet chicken sausage: I love a nice, spicy Italian-style chicken sausage, but a sweet variety would work perfectly as well. You can even use a vegetarian sausage, or substitute pork, or smoked beef sausage, if you'd like.
- Your favorite type of pasta: Whole wheat penne has a bit of a “bite” to it which is a nice option for this recipe, but feel free to use traditional pasta in your preferred shape. You can even use brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta or any other gluten-free pasta as well.
- Fresh herbs for flavor: A bit of fresh, chopped parsley and basil are added into the sauce at the end of the simmering process, and they offer a nice freshness. You can use all basil or all parsley, if you prefer, or even add a teeny sprinkle of thyme or rosemary.
- Make the breadcrumbs optional: While I love a little crisp-crunch from the flavorful, toasted breadcrumbs, you can totally skip this step and leave them off, if you prefer. Just garnish with some grated parmesan cheese for an easy topping!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2012, and has been updated with even more love!