Bring something new to the table with this vibrant, hearty pasta --- it's wonderful with or without the sausage!

Ziti with Sausage Lemon and Sage explodes with earthy, vibrant flavor, and is equally wonderful with or without the sausage.

Ziti with Sausage Lemon and Sage is a hearty vibrant meal with or without the sausage!

Writing the title for a recipe can be a little bit like making a speech at the Oscars….you want to fit everybody in but sometimes it’s impossible…  in this case, beautiful crunchy toasted walnuts, a whole cup of them, didn’t get a mention, but don’t count them out, they add so much to this happy, yummy family style pasta.  It won’t win any awards for its looks, but nobody will care.  Think hot spicy chunks of Italian sausage, tons of fresh sage sizzled up in some browned butter, fresh lemon juice, cream,  Asiago cheese, those walnuts, and copious amounts of parsley…oh, and ziti.  Now if you can resist that you’re not human.

Ziti with Sausage Lemon and Sage is a fabulous 30-minute meal

I’d say most of the ingredients in this Ziti with Sausage Lemon and Sage are equally important, but there is a hero — the fresh sage, and lots of it.  It gives the dish an aromatic, earthy flavor that makes it stand out from the ordinary.  I look for that in a recipe, something that will bring a new experience to the table.   And if you think of sage as a powdery dried herb that’s the background note in stuffing, you owe it to yourself to experience the fresh stuff.  The leaves are velvety soft and cushiony, it’s a fun herb to work with.   You’ll need a nice bunch of it for this recipe.

Ziti with Sausage Lemon and Sage is earthy and aromatic 30-minute meal, with or without the sausage

This recipe is adapted from the great Yotam Ottolenghi.  It’s a variation of a recipe in Plenty More.    I made it with and without the sausage and both were fantastic.  I highly recommend it.

Ziti with Sausage, Lemon and Sage recipe

Ziti with Sausage Lemon and Sage

Yield: serves 4-6


  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • 3/4 lb ziti, or other similar pasta
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tbsp)
  • 3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese (or other hard Italian cheese)
  • lots (at least 1/3 cup) chopped fresh parsley


  1. Put the walnuts in a cast iron skillet or other heavy skillet and toast over medium heat until you start to smell them and they begin to brown, stirring constantly. This will take about 10 minutes or so. Cool slightly and then give them a rough chop. Set aside.
  2. Remove the sausage meat from the casing and brown over medium heat until there is no pink left. Set aside.
  3. Cook the ziti according to package directions, to just shy of al dente. I usually cook my pasta a good 2 minutes short of what the package says.
  4. Pluck the sage leaves off their stems and finely slice them. You should have at least 1/3 - 1/2 cup.
  5. Melt the butter in a large skillet (big enough to hold the final dish) over a good medium high heat and add the sage. Let the sage sizzle and cook for two minutes, just until the butter begins to brown, Stir fairly constantly.
  6. Lower the heat and add the cream, stirring to combine. Add salt and pepper, sausage, and walnuts to the pan.
  7. When the pasta is just tender, drain and add it to the sauce, reserving a little of the cooking liquid.
  8. Toss well with lemon juice, cheese, and parsley and heat through. Add a little more cream, or some of the reserved cooking liquid if the sauce seems skimpy. Taste and add salt, pepper, or more lemon juice.

A comforting and homey 30 minute Pasta with Sausage Lemon and Sage


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31 Responses to Ziti with Sausage Lemon and Sage

  1. Sophia says:

    I made this and it was pretty tasty. I loved the zing of the lemon. The sauce is really good. I feel like you could easily adapt the recipe and have it turn out well. I want to try it next time with pine nuts. I made it with sweet sausage to make it more palatable to toddlers. I think I should have cooked some garlic with the sage to make up for the loss of flavor. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

  2. Kathryn says:

    This looks great, and I bet it smells incredible. I’m allergic to walnuts and pecans, can you recommend another nut you think might work well, or should I just omit them?

  3. Adri says:

    This sounds wonderful. I love dishes like this – straightforward flavors, some zing and lots of texture. Plus it is nice to see the Asiago. I always enjoy that cheese. Brava!

  4. cheri says:

    Hi Sue, I can easily see this being a family favorite, looks delicious!

  5. This recipe looks simply awesome, I love those kind of natural, countryside pastas full of taste :)

  6. Tabitha says:

    What happens to the walnuts? Are they just garnish?

  7. Susan says:

    I had to smile at your comment about the Oscars and recipe titles. So true! Sometimes I think that I need to eliminate something or it will be too long – LOL. This is my kind of comfort food. So delicious and hearty – just what I’m craving.

  8. Ha ha! I totally hear you on that, my recipe titles always end up so long and yet somehow something has been left out. This looks SO delicious, I am down with anything that involves fresh sage leaves these days ;)

  9. Fantastic flavour! I would love some too, Sue.

  10. Every time I coook with fresh herbs, I am impressed by what a difference they make! I trust your recommendation about this dish . . . I can smell it through your photos. My Mr. Rosemary loves anything with sausage. Looks like it will be a winner.

    • Sue says:

      At various times in my life I’ve gotten it together to grow an herb garden, and boy does it make the difference. And as for sage in particular, the smell is what really sets it apart, it’s like aromatherapy!

  11. Love all the ingredients in this dish, Ann’s love your play on the Oscars with this one. Sausages in any dish is always a great nominee!

  12. I very rarely cook with sage, so taking your advice will give the fresh herb a go. Sounds great.

    • Sue says:

      Thanks Denise, I need to remind myself to think about it when I’m developing recipes…it kind of gets bound up with Thanksgiving and stuffing in our minds!

  13. Sue, I want to dive right into those gorgeous photos! This looks like something I need to put on the menu very soon. And I always prefer ziti and penne over long pasta shapes–less messy for me to eat!

    • Sue says:

      I’m glad you mentioned that Jean, I should have talked about that in the post— I was originally going to use a strand pasta, but you’re right, they’re messy to eat, and I think it’s so hard to get them incorporated into the sauce.

  14. Love this combination of flavours, Sue! I’m always looking for new pasta recipes :)

  15. I love your play on the Oscar’s – this dish is an ensemble cast of top notch stars! I love everything about it except that it’s not on my table tonight :) Sharing and drooling!

  16. Now this looks like a weeknight meal I’d make again and again. Love all the fresh sage, this is a must try!

  17. Monica says:

    It’s amazing how much toasted walnuts add to pasta or a whole grain dish! Love this…I want to pick up a fork and just dig into it right from the skillet.

  18. I had to laugh at your opener, so true! I would almost say the photos speak for themselves though, they had me drooling! Sausage, sage, lemon – gah, I want to eat this now!

  19. Oh my gosh, so yummy Sue! I’m with you as far as having difficulty knowing what to name certain dishes. You hate to leave anything out, especially with all the fabulous ingredients in this ziti. Love everything about it!

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