This easy, 20 minute pasta recipe is made with Italian sausage, basil pesto, caramelized onions, and sweet green peas. Kid-friendly and crowd-pleasing, this sausage pasta recipe is sure to be a new favorite.
As a mom (and a working one, at that), a good, one-dish dinner makes my days so much easier. It takes away the stress of meal planning, doing dishes, and feeding my two growing boys. This Sausage Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Peas was a total hit with my kids, and will be with yours as well!
- Bowtie pasta: Not only are they cute, but they’re bite sized and the ridges catch the sauce very well.
- Italian sausage: I use mild to keep it kid friendly, but this dish would be delicious with a spicy sausage as well.
- Onion: I use a white onion that is slightly sweet and caramelizes quickly and adds wonderful flavor to the sauce.
- Pesto: Nutty, savory, and delicious on any pasta. Any basil pesto will work, homemade or store bought.
- Lemon Juice: Bright acidic freshness for the sauce.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano: A hard, dry cheese made from skim milk, it’s slightly nutty and salty in taste.
- Green peas: Rich in fiber and antioxidants, peas are a small, easy way to add nutrition to your meals.
How to Make Sausage Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Peas
Start your Sausage Pesto Pasta by cooking your bow-tie pasta in some salted water until they’re al dente. Reserve about 1/2 a cup of water to use later, drain, and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, add the Italian sausage to a hot skillet and break apart. Cook until it is all browned, then remove from pan.
Next, add some olive oil and the sliced onion to the same pan and cook until caramelized, soft, and browned.
Add the cooked sausage back to the pan with the onion, making sure you get any residual juices.
Next add the frozen peas to the pan.
Then add the pesto, reserved pasta water, and lemon juice to create your sauce.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan, season with some salt and pepper, and stir it all together.
Finish by adding the parmigiano-reggiano and freshly cut parsley atop your pasta dish.
Serve and enjoy your Sausage Pesto Pasta with Onions and Peas.
Change Things Up
- Make it gluten free. Use your favorite gluten-free pasta to serve this dish to those with celiacs or gluten allergies.
- Switch up the veggies. Instead of peas, use corn, green beans, asparagus, bell peppers, or a mix of a few!
- Make it vegan/vegetarian. There are great vegan “sausage” and other meat replacement options to choose from these days, or skip the sausage and double up on veggies!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I have to use bowtie pasta?
Any small, bite sized pasta would do well.
How do I know my onions are finished caramelizing?
They will turn slightly translucent, darken in color, become soft and tender, and will be aromatic (you can smell it).
How do you store leftovers?
Kept in an airtight container, it’ll keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
More Pasta Dishes
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Easy Beef Stroganoff
- Fire Roasted Sausage and Kale Pasta
- Oven Baked Chicken Parmesan
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If you need a new, kid-friendly recipe to try this week, look no further. My Sausage Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Peas will check all your boxes.
Your fork is waiting.
Sausage Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Peas
- 8 ounces bowtie pasta (or any short cut pasta of choice) (cooked according to package instructions)
- 1 pound Italian sausage (ground or casings removed, sweet or spicy)
- 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup pesto (store-bought or homemade)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- pinch chili flakes (optional)
- ½ cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- ¼ cup minced basil or parsley (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a big pinch of salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta cooking liquid to use later for the sauce.
- While pasta is cooking, heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add Italian sausage (ground or casings removed) to the pan and begin breaking down using a potato masher or wooden spoon. Cook until sausage is golden brown, stirring frequently, about 7-9 minutes. Once sausage is fully cooked, remove from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, drizzle in two tablespoons of olive oil and add the onion slices plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are golden and caramelized, about 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Once onions are caramelized return sausage to the pan along with any juices that have formed. Stir in pesto, lemon juice, reserved pasta water, parmesan and chili flakes to create a sauce. Toss in cooked pasta and green peas then stir well. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste before serving. If you have fresh herbs like parsley or basil, sprinkle them in at the end right before serving.