Nobody does comfort food like the Italians, and this easy sausage and peppers recipe is a prime example of how a few simple ingredients can come together to make a sublimely satisfying meal in about an hour.
Growing up in the ‘burbs’ of NYC I ate my fair share of sausage and peppers…on pasta, over polenta, in crusty bread, or all by themselves. I still crave them today. For this blast from the past recipe I use spicy Italian sausage, so the heat of the meat combines with the sweetness of the onions and peppers, and when you add in the tang of the tomato sauce it makes for one glorious meal. If you get authentic Italian sausage you’ll likely get little bursts of fennel seed in there as well. So. Good.
TIP: Bell peppers come in lots of colors and yes, there is a difference! Green peppers are slightly bitter, but in a good way. Orange, yellow and red peppers are more sweet. I like to mix them to get a little of each type of flavor in the dish. Red peppers have the most vitamins and nutrients of all the bell peppers, so don’t skip them!
This easy sausage and peppers recipe is a one skillet dinner that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Buy a package of Italian sausage, sweet or hot, it’s your call. Swing by the produce section and bag a few colorful bell peppers and an onion. Choose a jar of tomato sauce from the cupboard and grab your heftiest skillet. Brown the sausage, slice your onions and peppers nice and chunky, and fry them up. Add the tomato sauce and some dried herbs, cover the skillet and pop it in the oven. From start to finish it takes about an hour, and most of that time is hands off.
TIP: I used my Microwave Dried Herbs in this dish and they were fabulous…that technique has proved to be such a great idea. The microwave preserves flavor AND color, and it’s so convenient I’m using dried herbs a lot more often now.
This is the kind of meal that causes dinnertime stampedes, so be forewarned.
TIP: There are so many ways to serve sausage and peppers — you can go the traditional route over pasta and polenta, or in a sandwich, but you can also use rice, mashed potatoes, or a more unusual grain like farro or chewy wheat berries as a base. I’ve even had this over lentils.
- 1 package uncooked Italian sausage, hot or mild (5 or 6)
- olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved and sliced
- 3 large colorful bell peppers, halved and sliced
- 1 large jar (about 23 ounces) tomato or pasta sauce
- 1 Tbsp mixed dried Italian herbs, i.e. thyme, basil, sage, marjoram, oregano, etc.
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup yellow corn meal
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- shredded Parmesan cheese
- Set oven to 350F
- Brush the sausages with a little olive oil, and poke them in a few places with the tip of a sharp knife. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and brown the sausages for about 3 minutes on each side. Alternatively you can use a grill pan if you want nice grill marks on your sausage like I did. Set the sausages aside on a plate.
- Add a little more olive oil to the skillet along with the onions. Saute, stirring often, for a few minutes, then add the peppers. Stir fry for a few minutes until the peppers have softened but are still firm.
- Add the jar of tomato sauce, plus a good amount of the mixed dried herbs, at least a tablespoon. Season with salt and pepper, and give everything a good stir. Add the sausages back into the pan, nestling them down into the sauce. Bring the pan up to a simmer.
- Cover the skillet and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling throughout and the sausages are cooked through.
- Make the polenta during the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Heat the water and salt to a boil in a saucepan and sprinkle in the cornmeal, while whisking. Cook, stirring or whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes. Be careful, the polenta will sputter, so turn the heat down.
- Stir in the butter, cheese, and black pepper, mix well, and spoon into serving bowls or plates. Top with the sausage and peppers. Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. I guarantee you won't hear any complaints ;)
- Cooked sausage has its uses, but not in this dish. Start with raw Italian sausage.
- Don’t saute the peppers to death, you’ll lose color and texture. Remember they will bake for 45 minutes in the oven, so just give them a light stir fry on the stove.
- You can cook this entirely on the stove top if you prefer.
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