almost exactly 14 years ago (my printed recipe says “11/2/2003” in the bottom corner), my college roommate/one of my best friends and i found a recipe for fettuccine with creamy tomato and sausage sauce and decided to give it a try in our dorm kitchen. i’m pretty sure we immediately replaced the fettuccine with penne because, if you’ve ever seen me try to wrangle any sort of long pasta, well, you know why…
we didn’t make toooo many other changes to the recipe back then, aside from replacing some of the sweet italian sausage with hot italian sausage, and it was AMAZING! it quickly went into our favorites rotation and appeared on our weekly menu as often as we thought it prudent to have a recipe that called for a cup of heavy cream.
over the years though, i found myself making this recipe less and less often. i’ve never had a high tolerance for heavy cream in my dinner to start with and it seemed to decrease with time.
recently, i saw a recipe over at a couple cooks for creamy vegan pasta marinara and it sounded yummy. well, except for the capers. i’m sure their recipe is sublime, i just don’t interact with capers. but i was intrigued by the idea of using cashew cream in place of heavy cream.
i’ve found that my digestive system and i prefer cashew cream to heavy cream and so i wondered about substituting that in to my long-lost beloved recipe to resurrect it from my own personal archives. what i ended up with for this creamy tomato pasta with sausage is, unsurprisingly, a mashup of the two recipes, taking the best from both (namely, sausage from one and cashew cream from the other).
now, before i lose all of you dairy lovers, let me just say, you can absolutely use regular heavy cream in this creamy tomato pasta with sausage; in fact, that’s what i call for below. *i* just prefer to use cashew cream, and listed that option in the notes, in case anyone else wants to join me.
whichever way you make this creamy tomato pasta with sausage, know that it will be delicious. i’ve cut back a bit on the cream (whichever kind you use) so that the tomato flavor can shine. so, that said, this is a great recipe to use a nicer brand of canned tomatoes (i like tuttorosso), if you’re up for it. but no matter what tomatoes you use, there’s sausage, so we know all will be well. enjoy, friends!
you may also enjoy
un-baked ziti – while eating a bowl of this new recipe, my husband pointed out this creamy tomato pasta with sausage is similar to the un-baked ziti in the archives.
kale and white bean one pot pasta – this was a riff on the un-baked ziti, with more beans and kale and less cheese (you can guess which one my husband prefers…).
baked pasta with sausage and broccolini – pasta! sausage! broccolini! cheese! (a friend who is lactose-intolerant had this in heavy rotation at her house last year, which means it must be good!)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 10 oz. (283 g.) hot italian (turkey) sausage, casings removed
- 1 medium onion, sliced pole to pole into half moons
- 4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 28 oz. (794 g.) canned peeled plum tomatoes (i used no salt added), roughly chopped (stick clean kitchen scissors into the can and chop the tomatoes in the can)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ cup heavy cream or cashew cream, see notes
- 12 oz. (340 g.) dried pasta (penne is my go to)
- fresh basil, for serving (not strictly necessary, but very delicious)
- grated hard italian cheese (like pecorino romano), for serving, if desired
- bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. reserve a little bit of the pasta cooking water, in case you need to loosen the sauce. drain and set the pasta aside if it’s done before the sauce is ready.
- heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. add the sausage and brown, using a spatula to break the sausage into pieces as it cooks. when the sausage is cooked through, transfer it to a bowl and set aside.
- return the saucepan to the heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, until the onions and garlic are softened, fragrant, and the onions are turning translucent.
- add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and oregano. stir, then simmer for 10 minutes.
- add the cream and cooked sausage; stir, then simmer for 5 minutes.
- combine the pasta and sauce, adding the reserved pasta water in small increments, if necessary. serve immediately, sprinkled with fresh basil and cheese, if desired. leftovers keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat well, though, unsurprisingly, the pasta gets softer as it absorbs the sauce.
to make cashew cream, soak 2 oz. (1/2 cup / 57 g.) unsalted, raw cashews in about 2 cups of water for 3 – 4 hours (you can get away with skipping this step if you have a high powered blender). drain the cashews and combine with 1/3 cup (2 3/4 oz. / 80 ml) fresh water (not the water they soaked in) and blend on high until smooth, ideally in a high powered blender, though a food processor or regular blender works too. this makes a bit more cashew cream than you need for this recipe but it’s difficult to blend smaller amounts.
adapted from a combination of fettuccine with creamy tomato and sausage sauce in the December 2000 issue of bon appétit and a couple cooks’ creamy vegan pasta marinara.