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Italian sausage ideas

This week I found a good bargain on Italian sausage, which I've never bought before, and it's sitting in the freezer until I decide what to do with it to bring out its distinctive flavor (by that I mean, distinctly Italian, not just cooking it like any other sausage). I found a good recipe for Italian sausage and tortellini soup, and another for sauteeing it with broccoli rabe. What do you like to do with Italian sausage that does NOT involve bell peppers?

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  1. Take the meat out of the casings and break it up with fingers or a fork. Fry in olive oil until done, then add a good from-scratch tomato sauce, add cooked, drained penne or ziti, top with breadcrumbs and grated parmigiano or grana, and bake 20-25 minutes at 400°.

    1. Here's a simple, delicious classic:

      Cavatelli with Italian Sausage & Broco

      1/2 pound(about 2 cups)dried cavatelli OR other small shell-shaped pasta
      1/2 pound(about 3 links)Sweet Italian Sausage
      1 bunch(about 3/4 lb.)brocolli rabe, tough and hollow stems discarded, washed well
      1 garlic clove, minced
      1 1/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
      1/4 cup golden raisins
      1 tablespoon unsalted butter

      Accompaniment: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

      In a kettle of boiling salted water cook pasta until al dente. While pasta is cooking, squeeze sausage from its casings into a large heavy skillet and saute over moderately high heat, stirring to break up chunks, until no longer pink. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl, reserving drippings in skillet.

      Cut brocolli rabe into 1-inch pieces and saute in reserved drippings, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown. Add garlic and saute, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Add broth and raisins and simmer until brocolli rabe is just tender, about 3 minutes. Add butter, stirring until incorporated.

      Drain pasta and return to kettle. Add brocolli rabe mixture and sausage and heat through if necessary.

      Serve with Parmesan.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bostonbob3

        Yeah! That's the exact recipe I found. It sounds great. In fact, all of these sound great.

      2. I, too, love the combo of broccoli rabe and Ital sausage (hot and sweet). I however, taking the recipe from Lydia Bastianich in the J. Child book Cooking With Master Chefs, I think (It's now so long ago that it's very foggy), use chili flakes instead of raisins. There are a couple of other differences in "my" recipe: no butter. Lydia uses orecchiette (little ears) to catch lots of bits of sausage, rabe and sauce. I also use many cloves of garlic and sometimes onion.

        It's a verrry deelish way of cooking all these ingreds.

        5 Replies
        1. re: oakjoan

          Funny, I just saw Lydia on TV making a pasta, broccoli rabe, and pepper flakes dish today. And as I prefer spicy to sweet, switching chili for the raisins makes a lot of sense.

          1. re: oakjoan

            This is a great recipe, a standby I make all the time. I don't use butter either and push up the garlic quotient very high. Sweet sausage I find really works for some reason, balances out the garlic and bitterness of the rabe. She also cooked the rabe in a little bit of chicken stock which I find adds lots of depth of flavour.

            1. re: Mila

              You and several other people (and Epicurious) refer to "sweet" Italian sausage. Does that just mean mild, as opposed to hot?

              1. re: zorra

                Around here (San Francisco) that's the usual distinction--"hot" has chili flakes, "mild" or "sweet" usually has fennel seed. Molinari's Deli in North Beach makes both of those plus a version with neither chili nor fennel but lots of garlic; that's the one I prefer. They call it "regular" or "plain" or something equally uninformative--I specify "no fennel" or "senza finocchio" to make sure I'm getting what I want.

                1. re: zorra

                  Yes, exactly. It is not sweet tasting, as in sugary, but just not hot. With the Lydia recipe there are a lot of strong flavours going on and it seems to balance it out nicely.

            2. Black lentil and sausage stew is hearty and sausage-y, but heavy enough on the lentils that the whole concoction is fairly/sorta/kinda defensible health-wise. Exact recipe is on the label of the black lentils sold by Trader Joe's, but it's basically (this is my adaptation): sautee the de-cased sausage meat, onions, garlic, some sort of pepper if you like (I like hot ones). When sausage is browned and onions are translucent, add a cup and a half of black lentils and chicken broth to cover. Cook until lentils are soft, about 45 minutes. You can add some corn if you like at the end. I like to serve over quinoa, and enjoy it with avocado-and- cilantro salad.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Tatania

                I love the idea of lentils and Italian sausage! Thanks a lot.

              2. try it with breakfast.

                1. Take it out of the casing and crumble. Fry in olive oil till fully cooked. let cool slightly and mix with breadcrumbs and pecorino (or parmesan cheese) and an egg. Stuff into italian hot peppers or jalapenos or any hot pepper big enough to stuff. Then bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until the pepper is cooked. Eat with marinara sauce.

                  1. there is a great recipe that i got off of all recipes for italian sausage soup, with adding cheese tortolini and white beans. It is great to saute up the sausage and then the rest goes in the slow cooker for a few hours. I have a few more dinners in the freezer.

                    my other favorite is a spicey vodka sausage penne pasta that is chopped tomotoes, sauted sausage, some cream and vodka. yum!

                    1. I usually take the meat out of the casings as others have suggested and sauté with onion of some sort and turn into a pasta dish. This is a really nice recipe from Epicurious which is a combo of tomato and cream sauce. Rich but really good and even better the next day.


                      Also can add a nice twist to a breakfast scramble or frittata.

                      1. What I like to do with good Italian sausage is just make it into patties, and grill it like you would a hamburger. Slap some provolone and good sauce on it, on some good bread/buns maybe some hot peppers...
                        Good Italian sausage can compliment many dishes, great Italian sausage can stand on its own as easily as a good steak.

                        1. Sausage bread, especially Sausage Brioche.

                          1. Decase it, fry with onions garlic and rosemanry. Stuff it into squid bodies and close with a tooth pick. Put into a tomatoe sauce.

                            1. Roasted sausage with onions and grapes is a standby -- below is the actual recipe. I make it with whatever grapes I can find that look good.


                              1. Sausage and Peppers!!!!

                                Get a good loaf of bread to go with it.

                                Invite me over


                                1. on a sandwich with cooked spinach,garlic,olive oil and grated cheese or equally as well with chard cooked with tomato's,of course olive oil and a hint of garlic.Split the sausage after cooking and if you have available semolina bread

                                  1. My favorite thing to do with Italian Sausage is to make into a ballotine using chicken, either an airline breast or the thigh and leg with the thigh bone removed(skin on). I flatten out the meat a little, take the sausage out of the casing, and make a slit in the side of the chicken to stuff it into. Then I rub garlic butter under the skin, and lightly coat it in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne powder. I pan fry it so it gets nice and brown, and then place the whole pan into the oven until the chicken is cooked all the way through. When it is finished, I take the chicken out of the pan and use a little chicken stock to deglaze the pan and add balsamic to make a reduction sauce, which I drizzle over the Chicken. It you slice the chicken on a diagonal and fan out the pieces, it looks really nice. I usually serve this with some parmesan polenta...so good!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: foodrocks

                                      what a great idea--but what is an airline breast?

                                    2. Italian Sausages on Toasted Rolls With Sweet Pepper and Onion Saute.

                                      recipe at:


                                      my picture of my results at:


                                      1. Break it up and put it in quiche or strata.

                                        Slice up zucchini, potatoes, and onions. Cook them with the sausage (again, outside its casing) and a can of tomatoes.

                                        I also love the sausage and lentil combination -- this is my favorite sausage and lentil recipe. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...