This easy weeknight tomato pasta recipe uses spicy Italian sausage, tomato sauce, and crushed red pepper for a hearty dinner. Ready in just 30 minutes.
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Let’s go ahead and file this tomato pasta dish under “can’t stop, won’t stop.”
We’re working with an ultra-simple spicy pasta with sausage, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, WINE (duh) and tomato sauce. Rigatoni and penne pastas are our favorites here, but use whatever you have on hand!
ALSO: This recipe is a ONE POT wonder. Just cook the pasta in a sturdy pot (we used this one in these photos), drain it, and return the pot to the stove to make the sauce.
Get the sauce ingredients ready to go while the pasta cooks and you can have the whole recipe on the table in half an hour or less.
How to riff on this spicy tomato pasta recipe
- Swap the proteins. No Italian sausage? Substitute andouille, chorizo, ground chicken, ground turkey, or your favorite meatballs. This pasta is also good topped with grilled shrimp or prawns! If you’re feeling fancy, you can opt for multiple proteins – grilled or sautéed shrimp, chicken, and/or any type of sausage go well together in this dish.
- Dial up the veggies. Use this spicy tomato pasta sauce as a blank canvas for your favorite veggies, greens, and proteins. Add diced bell peppers or sliced mushrooms when you sauté the garlic and onion. Stir in steamed or roasted broccoli, roasted squash, or frozen peas when you add the tomato sauce. Add chopped kale, spinach, or arugula towards the end of cooking for a pop of green.
- Bake it! This spicy sausage pasta is SO good as a baked dish. Cook the pasta and sauce in an oven-safe pot (we love a good Dutch oven!) top with a few handfuls of mozzarella cheese, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until the cheese bubbles (15-20 minutes is usually plenty if the pasta is already hot – just keep an eye on it!)
This is an easy recipe to make ahead of time! Some of our favorite tricks:
- Freeze the sauce in big batches. This sauce keeps well in the freezer. Make a double or even triple batch of the sauce on its own, let it cool completely, then freeze 1-2 cups at a time in airtight containers for up to six months. When you’re ready to eat, just defrost in a saucepan or microwave and toss with cooked pasta!
- Turn it into cheesy baked pasta. Just like a lasagna, this spicy pasta holds up quite well when you make it ahead of time. Make the entire recipe as directed, then let pasta cool completely. Transfer to an oven-safe dish (we just leave it in our oven-safe Dutch oven!), top with a few handfuls of shredded mozzarella, cover and store in the fridge for up to four days or the freezer for up to four months (defrost overnight in the fridge when you’re ready to use it). To bake, pop the Dutch oven right from the fridge into a COLD oven, then heat the oven to 350 with the dish inside and bake until warmed through, usually about 30-40 minutes.
- Prep the Italian sausage, garlic, and onions ahead of time. Short on time or out of the ingredients for a full sauce? Cook up the sausage, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes on their own! Let cool, then store in the fridge for up to five days or the freezer for up to six months. Then just heat, add the rest of the ingredients, and toss with pasta.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to top it all off with a handful (or two! or three! #YOLO) of grated parmesan cheese. Bonus points if you serve it with a loaf of crusty bread!
This easy one pot spicy tomato pasta is ready in half an hour with a few kitchen staples!
- 1 pound pasta (we used rigatoni)
- 1 pound uncooked spicy Italian sausage
- 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- Cook pasta in a large pot of very salty water until al dente.
- Drain pasta, set aside, and return pot to the stove over medium-high heat.
- Add Italian sausage to pot and sauté until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to break it into pieces as it cooks.
- When sausage is cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove sausage to a separate bowl or plate. Leave any remaining fat or oil in the pot – you’ll use it to cook the onion and garlic in the next step!
- Add onion and garlic to pot. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to pot and stir to combine.
- Add red wine to pot to deglaze. Scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
- Add balsamic vinegar, crushed tomatoes, and cooked Italian sausage to pot. Stir to combine.
- Bring sauce to a simmer. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.
- Return the cooked pasta to the pot and stir to combine. Serve immediately.
Additions and Substitutions. Use vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water in place of the red wine if you like. If you plan to let the sauce simmer for more than 20 minutes, add an extra 1/4 cup of wine or water so the sauce doesn’t thicken too much. Save a few splashes of pasta water if you like – add to the sauce when you toss the pasta back in to help the sauce coat the pasta. Use ground chicken, ground turkey, rotisserie chicken, meatballs, or shrimp in place of the Italian sausage if you like. Add your favorite veggies (bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, peas) or greens (kale, spinach, arugula) to the sauce to make it heartier.
Ingredients and Equipment. We like a rich red wine in this recipe – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese, and Shiraz are all good options. We used this 6-quart Dutch oven for the photos in this post. We also love Le Creuset and Lodge Dutch ovens.
To adjust the spice level, substitute mild Italian sausage or regular ground pork for the hot Italian sausage. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to suit your taste.
To make this a baked pasta, place in an oven-safe dish (we use a Dutch oven!), top with shredded mozzarella, and bake until the cheese melts for a delicious pasta bake!
Make-Ahead Tips: Make sauce on its own and freeze for up to 6 months. See the post above for more make-ahead tips!
Serve this pasta with grated parmesan cheese and a quick arugula salad for an easy dinner. Add a loaf of crusty bread or some quick gruyere biscuits on the side!
Keywords: rigatoni, winter, one pot