The secret to this family-friendly pasta recipe is Italian sausage, bell peppers and sweet onions that are grilled until tender, caramelized and slightly smoky.
After living in Boston for nine years, I feel in love with the classic Italian sausage and peppers subs served outside of Fenway Park. While you can’t go wrong enjoying grilled sausage and peppers in a hoagie roll, I thought it would be fun to turn it into a family-friendly pasta dinner instead.
To maximize flavor, reduce calories and eliminate added dirty dishes, I love cooking the Italian sausage, peppers and onions over the grill. By cooking the veggies over an open flame, the natural sugars caramelize resulting in a sweet and smoky flavor that can’t be beat.
- Whole wheat spaghetti or pasta of choice: Whole wheat spaghetti adds a nutty flavor and is soft like white pasta, but packed with more nutrients.
- Italian sausage: Emulates the sausages of Northern Italy and is made of pork and seasoned with fennel, anise, coriander, pepper, and other spices. Go for either hot or sweet links.
- Red bell peppers: The sweetest and juiciest of bell peppers, red bell peppers are full of flavor. De-stem, seed and cut big chunks for grilling in this recipe.
- Yellow onion: Brings a balance of sweetness and an astringent flavor. You will need to thick slices of yellow onion for this recipe.
- Olive oil: Adds healthy fat and tons of antioxidants. I recommend high quality extra virgin olive oil but regular olive oil works for this recipe too!
- Seasoning: Grated garlic, red chili flakes, fresh basil and parsley add bold flavors in this tasty dish.
- Fire-roasted diced tomatoes: The sweet, smoky flavor from being charred by the fire makes for the perfect addition to grilled veggies and meat in this recipe.
- Parmigiano reggiano: Adds a sharp, savory taste. Parmigiano reggiano is always made in Italy, whereas parmesan cheese is an imitation. You can subsitute with regular parmesan if you don’t have the real deal on hand.
How to Make Sausage and Peppers Pasta
To get started, first, pre-heat your grill to high. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, reserving one cup of pasta cooking liquid.
Second, lightly brush onions and peppers with half the olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Adding olive oil before grilling encourages even browning and helps prevent the veggies from sticking to the grill.
Third, place the veggies and sausages on the grill. You will need to rotate them every three minutes or so until they are fully cooked (about eight minutes). As you rotate the meat and vegetables, more surface touches the grill and as a result, you will end up with more flavor. The more grill marks, the better!
Grilling Sausage and Veggies Without a Grill
Don’t have a grill on hand? You can also broil the meat and veggies in the oven with a broiler pan or my second favorite method, grilling with a cast iron grill pan on your stove. Cast iron works on the stove just like it does on a grill. If you’re going this route, place the food-filled pan directly on your grates, add olive oil and wait until the pan starts smoking. Follow the remaining directions above, just like you would with a grill.
Fourth, while sausage and veggies are grilling, heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the garlic and red chili flakes for 30-60 seconds. (Make sure not to burn the garlic).
Fifth, add in fire-roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and parsley and let the mixture simmer for 5-8 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I love the aroma that fills my kitchen when I make pasta!
Once the meat and veggies are done grilling for 3-4 minutes per side, remove them from the grill. Grilling the onions brings out the natural sweetness while also adding that classic charred taste.
Next, you’ll add them to the pasta mixture. Cut the grilled sausage and veggies into bite-sized pieces.
After you’ve cut the meat and veggies based on your preference, add the sausage and veggies to the tomato sauce and stir in pasta.
Stir everything together well and use the reserved pasta cooking liquid to add more moisture to the pasta if needed.
Finally, garnish your sausage and peppers pasta with more fresh basil, parsley and cheese to serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
I recommend whole wheat spaghetti for this recipe, but linguine is another great choice.
Skip the sausage and opt for another veggie in this recipe.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. It will last 3-5 days when stored properly.
I hope this recipe inspired you to fire up your grill more often! If you made this recipe, tag @TheLemonBowl on Instagram to be featured.
While you’re here, I also recommend checking out these recipes:
- Grilled Vegetable Pasta
- Roasted Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Pasta
- Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage, Peas and Ricotta
- Sausage Pizza Stuffed Peppers
- Spicy Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil
- Sheet Pan Sausage, Peppers and Potatoes
Your fork is waiting.
Sausage and Peppers Pasta
- 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti or pasta of choice
- 4 links Italian sausage hot or sweet
- 2 large red bell peppers de-stemmed, seeded and cut big chunks for grilling
- 1 large yellow onion cut thick slices
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic grated
- 1 teaspoons red chili flakes
- 14 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes
- ¼ cups fresh basil
- ⅛ cups fresh parsley
- parmigiano reggiano to taste
- Pre-heat grill to high heat.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
- Place sausages on the grill and rotate every 3 minutes or so until fully cooked (about 8 minutes.)
- Lightly brush onions and peppers with half the olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side then remove from grill.
- While sausage and onions are cooking, heat remaining olive oil in a large sauce pan and saute garlic and red chili flakes for 30-60 seconds. (Careful not to burn garlic.) Add fire roasted tomatoes and simmer for 5-8 minutes.
- When sausages and veggies come off the grill, cut into bite sized pieces then stir into tomato sauce before adding the cooked pasta to the pan. Toss well and check for seasoning. Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed. Use reserved pasta cooking liquid to add moisture if needed as well.
- Garnish with fresh basil, parsley and cheese to serve if you wish.