This Creamy Sausage Pasta is basically Zuppa Toscana pasta – packed with delicious sausage and bacon, tender kale and a garlic Parmesan cream sauce. It’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but special enough for date night (and budget friendly too!).
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and if you love delicious, creamy pasta as much as I do, you’ll love this easy recipe. Pair it with some crusty bread and a good glass of wine and you’ll be happy as a clam (those are my plans, anyway!).
This pasta with Italian sausage and cream sauce will sound a lot like Zuppa Toscana pasta – and that was the inspiration for it. The combination of cream, sausage, bacon and kale is comfort food at its best.
If that sounds like an expensive bunch of ingredients, here’s what I did to make it cheaper:
CHEAPER CREAMY ITALIAN SAUSAGE PASTA RECIPE
Use just 3 sausages
Half a package of bacon – just under 200g
Just one cup of heavy cream
Pasta bought on sale (pasta is cheap anyway, but buying it on sale makes it even cheaper)
Garlic and onions build tons of flavour but are cheap
Buy Parmesan cheese in bulk to save money (we get ours at Costco and it’s actually comparable in price to what you’d buy in a container on a shelf).
CREAMY SAUSAGE PASTA – STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS
Ingredients for this Creamy Sausage Pasta: kale, heavy cream, chicken bouillon/broth, onions, garlic, linguine (or other long pasta), Parmesan cheese, sausages and bacon.
Tip: If you’re using Italian sausage links for this pasta, start by removing them from the casings by making a slit with a sharp knife and peeling the casing off the sausage.
You can also set a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Once water boils, add pasta and cook until just before it’s al dente according to package instructions.
Fry ground Italian sausage with chopped bacon in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
Tip: I didn’t add any extra oil, because these two meats produce plenty as they heat up.
While sausage and bacon are cooking, dice an onion (mine were small, so I used two) and mince fresh garlic – about 8 cloves (the garlic flavour will mellow as they cook).
Once the sausage and bacon are cooked, scoop them out and set aside. Drain off all but 1-2 tablespoons of the oil left in the skillet.
Reduce heat to medium, add onions to pan and saute for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
Add chicken broth and white wine vinegar and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet.
Wash and chop kale into tiny pieces, and grate Parmesan cheese.
Tip: Fresh Parmesan is 100% better than packaged – it will melt into the sauce to make it nice and creamy.
When pasta is cooked, scoop out a big cup of pasta water before draining. Drain the noodles, but don’t rinse them. Cover them so they stay hot.
Add kale to pan and toss it around until it turns bright green and starts to wilt a bit. Add sausage and bacon.
Add pasta and cream to skillet (or move it all back into the large pasta pot if you need more space) and toss to combine, then add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and start to really agitate and toss the pasta into the sauce – the pasta sauce will help emulsify the cream and make the sauce creamy. Add another 1/2 cup of pasta water if you need to (I did). Stir it together for a few minutes.
At this point, taste the pasta to see if it needs more salt. It will depend on your bacon, your sausages, your broth, how well your pasta water was salted, and other factors. Personally, I added 1/2 teaspoon of salt, tossed and tasted, and ended up adding another 1/2 teaspoon before I was happy (so 1 teaspoon total).
Tip: You want the flavours to POP. If you’re tasting and feeling meh about the flavours, or like they seem a little dull, you need to add salt.
Then take the pot off the heat and add the fresh Parmesan cheese and mix well.
Serve immediately, and enjoy! 🙂
ITALIAN SAUSAGE PASTA – COMMON QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Can I use a different kind of sausage:
Sure! I think this would be great with hot Italian sausage, honey garlic sausage, or almost any savoury flavour. I’d avoid sweet sausages like maple, or breakfast sausages. The flavour profile will change of course, but still be delicious!
Why do I have to salt my pasta water or add salt to this dish?
Friends, salt is at the root of all flavour. Unless you are on a doctor-mandated low-sodium diet, I urge you to give salt a try (if you love delicious food). The point of salt is not to make food taste “salty”, it’s to enhance the natural flavours of the ingredients and help them shine.
If you’re making most of your food from scratch and avoiding processed food, chances are you don’t need to avoid salt when you’re cooking.
Don’t believe me? Read about what North America’s current favourite chef has to say.
Can I use spinach instead of kale?
Yes, but I would stick to fresh baby spinach (no frozen) and add it closer to the end of the cook time – it really only needs a minute to wilt since it’s more tender than kale.
Isn’t this sausage and kale pasta recipe a lot like a Zuppa Toscana pasta?
Why, yes, it is! Instead of potatoes we’re using pasta, and obviously it’s not a soup dish, but the flavour profile is the same! If you love Zuppa Toscana (how could you not!), you’ll love this pasta!
Did you make this pasta with Italian sausage and cream sauce? Leave us a star rating below!
This Creamy Sausage Pasta is basically Zuppa Toscana pasta - packed with delicious sausage and bacon, tender kale and a garlic Parmesan cream sauce. It's easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but special enough for date night (and budget friendly too!).
- 1 lb linguine
- 3 mild Italian sausages
- 1/2 pkg bacon (around 200g)
- 1 onion
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 4 cups kale (chopped into very small pieces)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar (can sub 1/4 cup white wine instead if you want)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt (more or less, to taste, see notes)
- 1 cup pasta water (divided) (reserved from when cooking pasta)
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until just before it's al dente, following package directions. Before draining, reserve a cup of pasta water. Drain noodles and keep warm.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove ground sausage from casings by making a slit down the middle and pulling casing off. Chop bacon into small pieces. Fry both in skillet until brown.
While meat is cooking, dice onion and mince garlic. Wash kale, strip leaves off tough centre stems and chop into small pieces. Grate fresh Parmesan.
Remove sausage and bacon to a plate and drain off all but 1-2 tablespoons of oil from the skillet. Add onion and saute for a few minutes until it softens. Add garlic, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook for about 1 minute.
Slowly pour chicken broth and white wine vinegar (or wine) into skillet and use a wooden spoon to scrape browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.
Add chopped kale, sausage and bacon to the skillet and cook for a few minutes - until kale turns bright green and wilts slightly.
Add linguine noodles, heavy cream and 1/2 cup of pasta water to the skillet (you might need to move everything to a larger pot, like the one you cooked the pasta in). Toss everything together for several minutes over low heat, making a special effort to agitate the sauce and noodles. If it needs more liquid, add another 1/2 cup of pasta water and mix very well to emulsify the cream sauce.
Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning. Add salt to taste. I used one full teaspoon. The flavours should be bright (if it tastes dull, you need more salt).
Serve immediately, garnishing with chopped fresh parsley, if using.