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Pasta with Sausage Meatballs, Peppers, and Onions

Photo: Kate Sears; Styling: Toni Brogen
Prep time 15 mins
Cook time 35 mins

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Sausage and peppers are a classic combo, and we've brightened them with a store-bought pesto. The cheese, garlic, and parsley elevate mere sausage to great-tasting meatballs, but packaged and fresh sausage normally comes seasoned and salted, so be careful not to add too much salt to the recipe.


  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (or a combination of sweet and hot), casings removed
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers (or 1 red and 1 yellow), seeded and sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound dry pasta, such as cavatappi
  • 1/3 cup prepared pesto, or to taste

How to Make It

  1. Combine 3 garlic cloves and next 4 ingredients in a bowl. Form into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch skillet or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, and cook 7 minutes or until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

  2. Pour off fat from pan, and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add onion, bell peppers, and remaining garlic; season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute. Return meatballs to pan; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

  3. Cook dry pasta according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot, and add pesto, meatballs, and vegetables; toss to combine. Add a little reserved pasta water, if desired. Serve with additional Parmesan.