Sausage & Peppers – Dinner for One

This weekend I went grocery shopping to buy ingredients for 2 main dishes: chicken with cauliflower alfredo sauce, and Italian chicken sausage and peppers.  I had full intentions of spending time making the recipe that was completely new to me (cauliflower alfredo sauce) but when all was said and done this weekend it was 6 pm Sunday and I did not feel like trying something new.  Sausage and peppers, however, is something I’ve made before, and often on the fly with limited ingredients, so I felt comfortable with the time and effort I’d spend along with the reward of eating something Sunday night that was healthy and comforting after a long weekend.

The simplest and fastest way to make sausage and peppers is to brown some Italian sausages in a pan, remove, cook some bell peppers and onions over medium heat, add in some jarred tomato pasta sauce of your choice (I like Gia Russa’s low sodium tomato and basil) and any additional herbs and spices of your liking, add the sausage back in and simmer for a bit.  Serve in a hoagie roll or over some pasta or zoodles, or just eat on its own.  If you’re making this for one person (and would like a serving for leftovers), I would recommend the following portions:

  • 2 Italian sausage (pork, turkey, or chicken, hot or mild)
  • 1 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 yellow onion (although any color you have on hand would work, although red onion will be a little stronger taste)
  • ~1-1/2 cups tomato pasta sauce; start with 1 cup and add more depending on how much sauce you like
Thawing tomato paste (L) Combined wine and diced tomato (C) Leftover diced tomato (R)

I find if I’m using a low sodium sauce it tends to be a bit thin so I typically add a spoonful of tomato paste.  Here’s a hint for tomato paste when you don’t use it often: buy a small can (not a tube) and when you’ve used your spoonful or so for your recipe, take the rest and portion it out and freeze.  I portion out 1 tablespoon into a square or strip of wax paper or cling wrap, roll it up and twist the ends.  I do this until all the paste is portioned out and then put them in a freezer safe container.  Then when you need a tablespoon or two, take one or two portions out of the freezer and pop it into your recipe.  If you’ll be adding it to your raw ingredients before cooking (e.g., meatballs), you’ll need to take it out in time to thaw a bit before adding to the rest of the raw ingredients.  I found it doesn’t take too long to thaw.  Otherwise, just pop it into whatever ingredients are cooking on the stove and it will quickly blend in.

This weekend, though, I spent a little extra time and made a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis that I found on the Food Network website.  It required a substitution (you don’t have Marsala wine on hand – yeah, me neither, but found a suggestion online to substitute pinot noir, and that I did have on hand).  I also cut the recipe in half which yielded 2-3 servings depending on how hungry you are and how much you want to stretch it.  I had half for dinner on a bed of zoodles, and plan to split the other half into 2 portions (also on zoodles) and enjoy with a simple side salad. 

Setting out my ingredients to begin prep

Below is the recipe I used, along with my notes; I scaled the recipe for 2-3 portions.  For more ideas on what to substitute for Marsala wine (including non-alcohol suggestions) please visit Love to Know. Please share your experience with sausage and peppers, would love to know how you enjoy it and what little tricks you use!

Sausage, Peppers and Onions

The recipe below is scaled for 2-3 servings; for the full 4-6 serving recipe please visit the link below.

Credit: Giada de Laurentiis via Food Network 

Ingredients

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ lb Italian sausage (~2 sausages, I used chicken sausage)

1 bell pepper, sliced

1 yellow onion, sliced

Salt & Pepper to taste

¼ heaping tsp dried oregano

¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

2-ish garlic cloves (I used 3 large cloves, garlic is best measured with your heart)

1 Tbsp tomato paste

½ cup Marsala wine (I substituted pinot noir)

½ of a 15 oz can diced tomato (I used fire-roasted low sodium, you could also cut up a couple fresh tomatoes if you don’t want to use canned, make sure to use a juicy variety)

Optional: 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste (I was going to use fresh jalapeno but decided against it this time)

Directions

Step by step photos

1.      Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add whole sausages and cook until brown on both sides ~ 7-10 minutes total.  Remove from pan and drain.

2.      Keeping pan on medium heat add peppers, onion, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until golden brown ~5 minutes.

3.      Add oregano, basil, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.

4.      Add tomato paste and stir.  Add wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes (if using). Stir to combine, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to release any brown bits. Lower to a simmer.

5.      Cut the sausage into 4-6 pieces each.  Add the sausage back into the pan and stir to combine.  Cook until the sauce has thickened ~20 minutes.

Serving suggestions: On zoodles or pasta or rice, on hoagie rolls or pita. Add parsley and grated parmesan.

Zoodles – zucchini noodles made with a simple hand spiralizer

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