What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pasta with Calabrian Sausage

Home of What’s Cooking WednesdayI have to admit that I was not a fan of sausage before I moved here. Calabrian salsiccia is really something special though, and this simple dish has become one of my absolute favorites.

If you’re going to make this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday recipe, please try your hardest to get some Calabrian sausage. The main flavor you should be looking for inside la salsiccia is peperoncino — hot pepper. Look at the photo below–see how red the inside is? That’s not undercooked, that’s piccante. And YUM.

The recipe is super easy–just your basic tomato sauce really–so feel free to experiment, throw in some peppers, mushrooms, or whatever you like, although you probably won’t need extra peperoncino!

I know a lot of people take the sausage out of its casing and crumble it into the sauce, but the method described below really lets the sausage shine. Keeping the sausage in its casings would also allow for the traditional Italian meal of pasta for the first course and then meat for the second course–although we eat it all together anyway. My American influence on P perhaps?

Pasta with Calabrian Sausage
(serves 2)

Pasta with Calabrian Sausage on Flickr

  • Pasta of your choice [recommended: fusilli  or penne(short) or bucatini (long)]
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 2-4 Calabrian sausage links, depending on their size and how many people are eating
  • Small handful of parsley, chopped
  • Splash of red wine (optional)
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • salt to taste

1. Heat about half a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in saucepan.

2. Poke holes in the sausage with a fork, add sausage to the pan, and and cook until browned on the outside, about 10 minutes. The sausage should also spring back from your touch a bit. It doesn’t have to be cooked through completely at this point as it will continue to cook in the sauce later, but you do want it mostly cooked.

3. Add another half a tablespoon of olive oil if the pan is dry; it may or may not be depending on the fat content in the sausage. Add onions, garlic, and parsley and sauté without letting them burn; you may have to turn down the heat a bit here.

4. Optional: Add wine and let cook off.

5. Turn the heat down to low and add tomatoes (put through a grinder or chopped to your liking), about a 1/4 cup of water to clean out the can, and salt to your taste. If sauce is still too thick, add some water; we often add up to 1/3 cup depending on the tomatoes. Cover and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes are done to your satisfaction (including proper thickness of sauce). If the sauce is too thin, let it cook for a bit without the lid on.

6. Prepare pasta and toss well with sauce. You could add some grated cheese, but I think this is delicious without.

Buon appetito!

28 Beans of Wisdom to “What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pasta with Calabrian Sausage”
  1. Christina

    That sounds soo good! I just had breakfast & really don’t need to be thinking of food yet.

    Christina’s last blog post..She’s working 9 to 5

    It’s always the right time to think of food Christina–especially in southern Italy 😉

  2. 04.02.2008

    Prima and seconda all together, eh? Next, I suppose, you’ll be having him drink coffee with milk. After lunch.


    Paolo’s last blog post..Strange matters

    Simma da na. P will *never* drink milk in any form before or after lunch…although he did try my American coffee with milk once and didn’t spit it out, so….

  3. Mary

    Funny, I too was no fan of sausage until I tasted the sausage here in Abruzzo. I think it may be the black pepper they put in sausage in the US. As for the sauce I like cooking the sausage in it too and I’ll usually crumble up one small piece and leave the rest whole. It’s yummy. I’m going to have to make some soon before they stop making fresh sausage.

    Mary’s last blog post..Legal time means Springtime

    Woohoo for southern Italian salsiccia! And we freeze our fresh sausage–I just wrap it in saran wrap and then in a freezer bag. I don’t know how long it would last in there since we usually eat ours within 2 weeks anyway…can’t help ourselves 😉

  4. Joanne

    My Dad has a spicy tooth (??) and he loves Calabrian sausage – I on the other hand am a spicey
    wimp – too much and I cry 😥
    Since Dad is arriving on Saturday I’ll treat him to this!

    Joanne’s last blog post..I’ve been a fool

    Ooh perfect timing Joanne! Benvenuto Papà!

  5. 04.02.2008

    I will sure give it a try, it looks delicious. We love spicy, and pasta, so it will sure be a hit.

    Beatriz’s last blog post..Pesce d’Aprile

    We love spicy and pasta too…but I guess you probably knew that 😉 Let me know how it goes!

  6. 04.02.2008

    This looks squisito!!! I love italian sausage, but am afraid I can’t do it very spicy. I like the sweeter stuff better…but I do love that fennel flavor. I’ll have to get cookin’ 😉

    My Melange’s last blog post..Italian Cinema

    Well I do like the sweet stuff too, and yes, that fennel is what makes it so tasty 🙂

  7. 04.02.2008

    Once again, you’ve offered up a recipe that I must make! I tried the fried eggplant balls the other weekend….YUMMY!!!!

    Jane’s last blog post..What is your excuse?

    So glad you liked the eggplant balls–and thanks for reminding me. I think I’m due for some more 😉

  8. 04.02.2008

    I love Calabrian spicy. Northern Italian couldn’t touch it.
    And I loved your comment on my post yesterday. I knew I would ruffle feathers with that post, but you always seem to know exactly what I’m saying. Very rare. Thanks.

    jennifer’s last blog post..the traveler

    I always enjoy visiting you Jennifer precisely because you verbalize things for me so well. Rare indeed 🙂

  9. 04.02.2008

    “Spicy tooth!” That’s wonderful! Anch’io l’ho!

    Paolo’s last blog post..Strange matters

    P definitely has one of those too. Or maybe 32 of ’em 😉

  10. 04.02.2008

    What a wonderful hearty meal…yum!:)

    Laurie’s last blog post..Coloring Coconut

    Definitely hearty 🙂

  11. 04.02.2008

    Love the fennel, love the spice, big fan of the Italian sausage in almost any form! We have a milder version here in Umbria but I love the piccante too. Yeah, let the sausage shine, I would:)

    I think I’m going to have to take a sausage tour of Italy. Hmm, that sounds dirty.

  12. 04.02.2008

    Hey there! Me again I wondered why your cute little thingy didn’t pick up my last post like it usually does (I love that). But I guess I’m having one of those days. Can I come round to supper at your place? Pleeease.

    I think you forgot the http:// in front of the address. If you want to try again, please feel free 🙂

    And supper will be around 7.30…hurry!

  13. 04.02.2008

    I was never much for sausage before coming here, either. Each region’s is different; here is definitely milder than southern Italy. When I buy the salsiccia piccante at our butcher he always asks, “well, was it spicy enough?” When I say, “it was mildly spicy” he laughs and says, “nothing’s ever hot enough for you!” This recipe has been one of my old stand-bys for a couple of years, since I first tasted it in a down-home restaurant in Agropoli. Yum.

    Valerie’s last blog post..The Big Question Mark

    That’s funny Valerie…see you *are* a southern girl 🙂

  14. 04.02.2008

    I saw a picture of this on your flickr and it literally made my mouth water. You naughty, naughty (brilliant!) girl. 🙂


  15. 04.02.2008

    HMMM…sausage…and it’s lunchtime too. Now I must go eat my boring lunch and pretend it’s calabrian sausage! 😉

    Karina’s last blog post..Whispers, Sunshine and Pink Shoes

    I’m sure your lunch is tasty too…maybe not as Calabrian, but I’m sure it’s fine 😉

  16. 04.02.2008

    I promise I’ll hunt down some Calabrian sausage for this one.

    Being English, I’m a bit startled by how red the middle of the cooked sausage is – meat should be grey, surely? 😉

    Mikeachim’s last blog post..A Conspiracy Of Obstructions

    Hah! We have a firm “no grey meat” policy in this house. It’s working for us so far 😉

  17. 04.02.2008

    Mouth is watering bigtime!

    Billy’s last blog post..Clowns

    Must make some Billy!

  18. 04.02.2008

    Oh, my! I’m not a big fan of sausage unless it’s fried heavily and served beside two eggs and a couple slices of toast, but I have to admit that that looks delicious!

    Lulu’s last blog post..Lightening My Load

    Oh Lulu, this is a whole other kind of sausage, believe me 😉

  19. 04.02.2008

    That looks sooo good! It’s lunch time here and I’m hungry. Too bad you’re not closer and offer takeout. *g*

    Too bad indeed Robin; would be lovely to share a meal with you 🙂

  20. 04.02.2008

    Can’t get them spicy up here, but they sure are salty!

    I ran into a Calabrian recipe today that I’ve never heard of. It’s a primo. I will have to look up the name ans see if you and/or P knows it.

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..The popover

    Looking forward to seeing that recipe, and whoo boy, let’s not talk about salt. The salt in the sausages seem fine to me (someone who is sensitive and not too fond of salt) but just about everything else made outside my home…wow.

  21. 04.02.2008

    Mmmmmm! Me like spicy! Wouldn’t have called myself “masala” otherwise. And even if Mimmo is from the north, he was either calabrese or Indian in another life because he can out-spice me any day. He turned me on to ‘nduja and could hold his own when he visited my relatives in India. And I’m sure he’ll loooove this recipe.

    Linda’s last blog post..Milanese Expo!!!!!!

    That’s funny about Mimmo and ‘nduja! My P doesn’t even really go for that very often….

  22. annie

    It looks great, although I can’t do the hot sausage. But I’m sure the sweet one would work just as well. I love the simplicity of the dish. And the flavor is most assuredly “complex”. That’s whats great about Italian food!

    Simplicity is definitely a feature of the Calabrian cuisine. This would be great with sweet sausage as well, yes 🙂

  23. 04.03.2008

    Hot and spicy is right up my alley! I would love that sausage! That right there is a complete meal for me! Yummmm

    Marie’s last blog post..ROASTED GARLIC AND BROCCOLI PASTA

    I’m sure you’d love this Marie; give it a go!

  24. 04.03.2008

    I remember having Calabrian sausage and salumi in Italy and being barely able to take the spiciness! I must admit, after a bit of getting used to it is addictively good!

    Yes, one definitely builds up a tolerance to the spice; I’m not quite as “advanced” as P, but I’m getting there 😉

  25. Anne

    I am not a great fan of the British sausage, but those sound tasty…we love pasta so will give this a go 🙂

    That’s the spirit Anne 🙂

  26. Love salsiccia. My favorite local Neapolitan pizza parlor uses it and it’s just so very yummy. That sounds lame. But the fennel and spice in the salsiccia really made the pizza stand out.

    Wandering Chopsticks’s last blog post..WC’s Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) by Danielle

    Not lame at all; I hear you 😉

  27. Calabrisell

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm BUONAAAAAAAAAA la ‘nduja!

    Hee hee….

  28. 02.06.2011

    I remember my Calabrian suocera’s homemade sausage… fiery red on the inside, so tasty I’d just brown it, add tomato, let it cook and serve over pasta. It didn’t need another thing. AND NO FENNEL. EVER. (who does that? I never had fennel in a sausage until moving to the US!)

    Actually I’ve had fennel in sausage here; I think it just depends on who makes it…it’s never been an overpowering flavor in sausage I’ve had here, though.



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