A family favorite, this casarecce pasta boasts a bold combination of flavors. The sautéed sweet peppers and red onion melt with the heat of the spicy Italian sausage. A sprinkle of grated pecorino and freshly-ribboned basil are the perfect garnish for this rustic pasta dish.
Casarecce Pasta FAQs
Why use garlic powder vs. minced garlic?
I chose to use garlic powder vs. minced garlic in this casarecce pasta recipe to save time.
As a garlic lover, it's easy to get annoyed by all the garlic I have to peel & chop to achieve a strong garlic flavor in a dish. Because we have to slice so many peppers and onions for this dish, it's easier to swap in garlic powder.
Garlic powder vs. garlic salt: which one should I use?
When deciding between garlic powder vs. garlic salt, I always choose garlic powder. I think it's important to season with garlic and salt separately to properly manage the flavor of the dish.
Why use both butter and olive oil?
Obviously, I love butter--especially in a casarecce pasta recipe. Over the years and countless times I've made this recipe, I found that a 50/50 butter/olive oil split has given this pasta the best flavor and the right amount of richness without making it feel too heavy or oily.
The Dietitian's Nutrient Notes
Add More Greens to Your Casarecce Pasta
One of the new habits I've been working on is adding more vegetables to my meals. For pasta, it's super easy--roughly chop fresh spinach or arugula & serve your pasta on that bed of greens. You're increasing your veggie intake, and it looks pretty, too!
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it's recommended adults eat 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories eaten. This equates to 28-42 grams per day if you're eating a 2,000-3,000 calorie diet.
Swapping in whole grain pasta is the easiest way to boost fiber without sacrificing taste.
For example, 1 serving of Barilla Penne pasta has 3 grams of fiber, but 1 serving Barilla Whole Grain penne has 7 grams of fiber--that's more than double the fiber, with no extra work!
But why is fiber so important? Besides keeping you "regular", fiber helps keep you feeling full, fiber helps balance the carbs you're eating. Balancing carbs with fiber helps reduce glucose spikes that can leave you feeling hungry.
If you don't have whole grain pasta on hand, you can always add in a white bean, like cannellini beans. It increases both fiber and protein, and adds a creaminess to the dish.
Bonus Tips for the Perfect Casarecce Pasta
- Use a Dutch oven to cook the sausage. The high sides of the Dutch oven help contain any spatter of fat when the sausage is cooking. And it makes it much easier to mix the sausage, peppers & onions, and pasta together with all the spices at the end.
- Set your timer early. I like my pasta truly al dente (and I get distracted easily, so if the instructions on the pasta say "Cook for 10-12 minutes." I set my timer for 9 minutes so I can catch the pasta before it overcooks.
- Salt the peppers & onions as they're cooking.
- Swap the pasta shape. If you can't find casarecce, no worries! This dish works well with any short pasta shape. I've made it with penne, gemelli, rigatoni, campanelle and cellentani.
This rustic, full-flavored pasta dish has become a favorite in my family, and I hope it will in yours too. It's buttery, beautifully colored, and has the perfect amount of bite.
If you're looking for more pasta recipes, check out my Garlic Basil Pasta with a honey balsamic drizzle and Spicy Fusilli in a sun-dried tomato vodka sauce. If you're a garlic bread lover, toast a baguette and spread on my Hazelnut Basil Pesto Butter.
All my love & a little butter,
Olivia Sokolowska, MBA, RD
The flavor of the sautéed sweet peppers and red onion melt with the heat of the spicy Italian sausage, making for a bold, beautiful pasta dish.
- 15 mini sweet peppers
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage
- 1 pound casarecce pasta
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon salted butter
- ½ tablespoon chili oil (optional)
- ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup grated pecorino cheese
- Fresh basil leaves, ribboned
- Salt, to taste
Prep the veg
1. Cut the tops off the peppers. Slice each pepper in half, remove the seeds, and slice into 1 inch-long pieces.
2. Peel any dry layers off the red onion. Cut the onion in half & lay flat side down, slicing the onion about ⅛ inch thick. Set the peppers & onions aside.
Cook the meat, pasta, and veg
3. Fill a pot with water, salt the water, and let it come to a boil as you cook the sausage.
4. Bring the stove to medium-high heat, and in an extra-large frying pan or dutch oven, cook the sausage. Use a meat chopper to consistently break up the sausage into small crumbles as it cooks. When the sausage is fully cooked, transfer it to a bowl & set aside.
5. By this time, the water should be boiling. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente.
6. In the same pan you cooked the sausage, add the olive oil + butter and let melt over medium heat. Toss in the sweet peppers & red onion and let cook until soft. *The peppers & red onion should be finished cooking when the pasta is ready to drain.
Assemble the pasta
7. Drain the pasta--do NOT rinse. Pour the hot pasta into the pan with the peppers & onions. Add in the sausage and mix to combine.
8. While the pasta is still hot, add in the chili oil (optional), red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt to taste, and most of the pecorino cheese. Mix to combine.
9. Top with fresh basil leaves and freshly grated pecorino.
Serving Size: 2 cups; Serves 5
Serving Size2 cups
Amount Per Serving Calories 690Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 11gSodium 800mgCarbohydrates 75gFiber 2.5gSugar 6gProtein 30g
Please note that nutrition information is a computer-generated estimate and should not be interpreted as a registered dietitian's advice. Nutrition facts calculations vary based on brands, products, and serving sizes.