Weeknight Sausage Pasta with Spinach

published Sep 15, 2022
Sausage Pasta Recipe

This pasta with Italian sausage and heaps of baby spinach is a satisfying 35-minute meal that’s sure to become your weeknight standby.


Prep10 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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Credit: Kelli Foster

Pasta is a weeknight dinner staple in our house, for good reason — it’s quick, versatile, and comforting. This Italian sausage-packed iteration checks off all of those boxes and more. Sure, it’s meaty, but it’s also filled with over half a clamshell of baby spinach, which is wilted right into the garlicky tomato sauce for color and wholesomeness. It’s a satisfying 35-minute meal that’s sure to become a standby.

Any type of dried short pasta can be used for this recipe. Penne, ziti, and rigatoni are classic tubular shapes that never fail, but don’t hesitate to try other fun options like cavatappi, fusilli, and casarecce.

What Kind of Italian Sausage Should I Use?

Italian sausage is fresh sausage typically made from pork (although you’ll now find chicken and turkey Italian sausage, too) and a mix of Italian spices. While recipes vary, a combination of garlic, fennel seed, black pepper, and red pepper flakes is the most common. Sweet Italian sausage, also known as mild Italian sausage, uses less red pepper flakes, while hot Italian sausage contains a more generous amount to ensure it’s spicy. Either variety will work well in this recipe.

Can You Cook Raw Sausage in Pasta Sauce?

It’s best to cook the sausage first before stirring in the crushed tomatoes to make the pasta sauce. This allows the sausage to brown and lock in its juices, which lends extra flavor to the meat.

Sausage Pasta Recipe

This pasta with Italian sausage and heaps of baby spinach is a satisfying 35-minute meal that’s sure to become your weeknight standby.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 3 cloves


  • 1 pound

    uncooked hot or sweet Italian sausage

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    crushed tomatoes

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound

    dried short pasta, such as penne

  • 3 ounces

    baby spinach (about 3 packed cups)

  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, dice 1 small yellow onion. Mince 3 garlic cloves. Remove the casings from 1 pound uncooked Italian sausage if needed.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan or high-sided sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until softened and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes if desired and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  3. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula into small pieces, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Carefully pour in 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.

  4. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta. Add 1 pound dried short pasta to the boiling water and according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to the now-empty pot off the heat.

  5. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss gently to combine. Add 3 ounces baby spinach a handful or two at a time, stirring between each addition, until the spinach is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve garnished generously with grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.