Creamy Tomato and Sausage Pasta

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less  

THK Sausage Pasta 4

It’s just so sadly ironic, really. The plight of this poor recipe. (Imagine sweetly sorrowful violin music here, and maybe a deep, droopy bassoon.)

“Ironic? But why?” You must be thinking in astonishment. “This recipe looks amazing!” (Well, you’re right about that – it sure is.)

And you’re probably sizing it up now: “A satisfying bed of pasta draped in a lusciously creamy tomato sauce, studded with gorgeous fresh basil and the flavorful kick of Italian sausage! My, oh my!” (Are you actually thinking that to yourself?!?!)

Next you’re glancing at the ingredient list. (Go ahead and take a peek … we’ll wait for you right here …… Ok – are you back? Good.) So now you’re thinking, “Huh. I just don’t see the irony. It’s great! All that creamy-dreamy-satisfying pasta goodness, yet totally loaded with nutrition!” (Yeah – you’re right again! And notice how the spinach is chopped right up so it pretty much looks just like the basil and even your veggie-averse kiddos won’t worry about it … yep … brilliant!)

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Honestly, we’ve been dying to share this recipe with you for more than a year now. No, really! Shelley created it back before we’d even started posting recipes here at THK. We love it, and we know you’ll love it, too!

It totally passed its battery of THK taste tests with flying colors, and we actually photographed it and had it all ready for you clear back last summer. On a gorgeously sunny July day, as our kids played with neighborhood friends … we staged and posed this pasta in all its creamy-tomatoey deliciousness, just so we could be ready to share it with you. In fact, after it was photographed, there was a line of kids begging for lunch. They ate all of it. Seriously.

So Where’s The Irony????

You’re just not seeing a problem, right? No need for sad violin and droopy bassoon?

Well, here’s the thing.

THK Sausage Pasta 2

This pasta dinner is so family-pleasingly yummy, and so gosh-darn easy … that it’s awesome pretty much any day (every day!?!?!?) of the year! Any Day! Even busy, busy days!

And that’s where the problem comes in.


That’s the irony, friends! (Cue sappy violin and droopy bassoon …)

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As you begin chopping the spinach and the basil, you’ll see that they look nearly identical. We often chop a bit of spinach right along with basil in salads or pasta recipes like this. You won’t taste the spinach but it adds great nutrition!

We kept bumping it down the line of our jam-crammed editorial schedule! It didn’t have apples or pumpkin for fall (but no worries, we could post it any day) … bump! It wasn’t a luscious treat for Sweetest Day or orange-and-black-and-spooktacular for Halloween (but we really could post it just any day) … bump again! It wasn’t a Christmas cookie or a Super Bowl snack or a heart-shaped Valentine treat … bump, bumpbump

And so this wonderfully perfect-for-any-day recipe just kept waiting, all ready and delicious … just waiting for you!

Now, after the long, agonizing, ironic wait … NOW is the day friends!

Nestled between the Shamrock Shake of St. Paddy’s Day and the upcoming egg-aliciousness of Easter … NOW is the day! (Imagine the violins and bassoons giving way to the fanfare of trumpets and happily trilling flutes …)

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THK Shortcut: If you’re pressed for time, don’t worry about transferring the penne to a serving bowl and artfully topping it with the tomato cream sauce – just toss the pasta right into the skillet with your finished sauce, stir it all together, and take it on over to the table for homestyle serving! So easy!

This so-good-you-will-make-it-again-and-again-ANY-DAY pasta … has now had its day.

We love it. You’ll love it. It’s easy and healthy and delicious. And it’s perfect any day.

… more trilling fanfare …

Our work here is done.

THK Signature Gretchen & Shelley cropped

We’d Love to Hear From You!

What’s your one go-to meal that you cook all year long, anytime, any day of the week? The one that’s always satisfying and never, ever lets you down? Tell us about it (and then send samples!!!) …

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Creamy Tomato and Sausage Pasta

Preparation 12-15 min. 2017-08-17T00:00:00+00:00 Cook Time 10 min. 2017-08-17T00:10:00+00:00
Serves About 8 cups     adjust servings


  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 10-12 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage (bulk, or links with casings removed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14.5 ounce can chunky tomato bisque (we use Amy's Organic)
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish, if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed baby spinach, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed basil, finely chopped


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat a nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and then onions, cooking until onions are translucent and beginning to soften (about 3-4 minutes). Add sausage and garlic. Continue cooking until sausage is cooked through, stirring to crumble (about 5 minutes more).
  3. Add bisque, ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper to skillet and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in spinach and basil.
  4. Serve sauce over warm penne. Alternately, you can toss the pasta right into the skillet with your tomato sauce, stir it together, and serve it homestyle directly from the skillet.
  5. Garnish with parmesan, if desired.


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Creamy Tomato and Sausage Pasta — 51 Comments

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    • Oh, Trish – if your family loves pasta, this’ll be a hit with them, for sure! And you’ll love it not only because it’s so healthy and delicious, but also because it’s so totally easy to throw together, even on busy weeknights! Yum! 😀 ~G&S

  6. Nice pasta dish…sausage just sounds delicious…packed with flavor…like the idea of spinach and basil…yum!
    Thanks for the recipe…hope you are having a great week 😀

    • Hi, Juliana! Thanks so much for the kind words! This really is just packed with flavor – so filling and satisfying yet also so filled with healthy, good-for-you ingredients! And yes – we are both just getting back from spring break vacations with our families and we both had a wonderful, rejuvenating week! Hope yours was a fabulous week, as well! 😀 ~G&S

  7. Haha, I had to read the whole post 2-3 times just to imagine that violin turning into the fanfare turning into an ochestra and exploding into a pasta dish. With spinach. (Amazing idea! How do you do this?) You know I’m seriously considering moving in with you guys… You make me this pasta, and I’ll bake you a cake, share my worldly knowledge *coughcough*, do all the house work and.. you name it, you’d be surprised how much I’d do for that pasta!

    • To tell the truth – we kinda live this sort of musical dinner accompaniment in our own homes everyday! My kiddos played violin for a year (so let me tell ya – I for sure know what sorrowful violin sounds like! :D) and then they switched to percussion and trumpet, while Gretchen’s oldest has played cello for three years now. We honestly get musical fanfares with our dinners all the time – lol!!!! Oh and hey – we’ll trade all your awesome globetrotting recipes and a cake for all the pasta you can eat! Game on, friend! 😀 ~Shelley

    • Oh my gosh, Abbe! I just went and peeked at your ziti al fresco recipe, and it’s so exactly a dish I would LOVE! I am an absolute sucker for pasta, and definitely for “pink” tomato cream sauces! That’s really why I made up this particular recipe – because I totally want to be able to eat meals like this as often as possible, so I knew I had to find ways to make it healthier, with more fiber and veggies, and less white carbs and fat. I would absolutely love to know how you like my version by comparison – let me know if you give it a try! 😀 ~Shelley

  8. Always looking for ways to sneak veggies into dishes for picky eaters! Chopping the spinach to look like basil is a great way to fool the kids. 🙂

    • You’re so right, Tara! We aren’t all about being tricky, but the final flavor and aesthetics of our recipes are really important to us, and that spinach chops right up to look like little green flecks – just like basil! So, really – whether you’re being sneaky here and there, or just looking for great ways to amp up nutrition while maintaining the look and flavor of a recipe, this little technique is a total gem! It works for all sorts of other recipes, too! 😀 ~G&S

    • Oh, Pamela, it really is so yum-ilicious and great, plus loaded with keep-you-full fiber and protein, and oodles of veggie goodness! Like decadence meeting up with great nutrition, all in a super-simple weeknight dinner. Yaaahoooo! 😀 ~G&S

  9. Hahaha you girls are too funny – I love reading your posts! And I’m so happy that you finally shared this dish with us all. It looks like the most perfect weeknight dinner! And thanks for the spinach tip – that’s brilliant!

    • Hey, Mila! Thanks so much for stopping by! Pasta is probably my ultimate comfort food, and definitely my favorite quick and easy dinner starter! I am so, so happy to be able to transform a potentially white-carb laden, fatty, heavy meal into something that’s chock-full of fiber and nutrition, yet still 100% satisfying and delicious! Mmmmmmm … I do so love this recipe!!!! Hope you love it, too! 😀 ~Shelley

    • Yep – it’s a crowd pleaser, for sure! So easy, so good! And now that it’s not getting bumped down the line to make way for Christmas cookies and Super bowl snacks … well, it’s destiny has finally been fulfilled! 😀 ~G&S

    • Hi, Mireya! Totally agreeing with you on those kid-friendly go-tos! We’re all about really fast recipes that we can pull out at a moment’s notice … feed everybody really great fuel for a busy evening … AND have everyone saying “mmmmmmmm” through the whole meal! This pasta is one of those recipes, for sure. Not just a kid-pleaser, but an adult-pleaser, as well! Everyone leaves the table happy and nourished! Yay! 😀 ~G&S

  10. Ya know? This looks really satisfying. I could really go for this after a hectic day. Great idea with the soup! I think I will look at soup cans differently now. And yeah to you for adding the spinach and basil – both super delicious and nutrient dense. Have a great weekend, ladies!

    • It really is so, so satisfying – comfort food that’s like a big, healthy hug after a long day! And those soup cans sure have changed a lot in recent years! With a little careful label-reading, you can find truly delicious soups that are full of lovely ingredients and make wonderful bases for all sorts of super-fast recipes … such a great help for busy cooks! Hope you have a great weekend, too, Lori! 😀 ~G&S

  11. WOW you two out did yourselves again – Creamy + Pasta anything and I am in! I love the comment about not transferring the pasta to a serving bowl because I never do 🙂 The less dishes the better on any night! Excited to try out this tomato sauce with ricotta cheese?! (Why have I never thought of that?) 😀 Have an amazing weekend!

    • Thanks so much, Ceara! You’re so sweet! And yeah – as much as we love the presentation of the beautiful, creamy sauce nestled on top of a bed of perfectly al dente pasta … ummmmmm … in real life, it’s so much easier to just toss the pasta right into the skillet, give it a quick stir and keep right on going … 😀 Ooooohhhhh … and you’re gonna love the ricotta in this – so much decadence without adding too much naughtiness! Yay! 😀 ~G&S

  12. ♫♫ She’s crafty, she gets spinach into the pasta. She’s crafty ♫♫ Ok, not my best Beastie Boys impersonation. But I love the pasta! And, I love Amy’s soups, so this has to be great. Besides, a line of kids pretty much proves it’s good! Pinning so I can make it soon. Thanks!

    • You’re hilarious! Although honestly, I’m not sure if I should be flattered or horrified to have my pasta set to the music of the Beastie Boys!!! 😀 Oh … and … ummmmmm … do you have OTHER Beastie Boys impersonations – as in, SEVERAL?!?! Lol! Regardless – I’m totally with you on loving both pasta and Amy’s soups – bring them both together and you’ve got a truly simple, easy meal that’s for sure great! We all love it, every time! Have an awesome weekend, Debi! ~Shelley

  13. What an amazing idea! I love the idea of chopping the spinach and adding it into the sauce. I don’t have kids but I do have a fella who needs the ‘sneaky’ treatment from time to time. 😉 Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Seriously – we do this all the time! Not necessarily even to be sneaky (although you for sure can be, and no one will be the wiser!) but just because you can pack a whole lotta healthful spinach into a dish (salads … pastas …. whatever) without it really affecting the flavors. And in this case it doesn’t affect the visual impact or the texture of the dish, either, because it’s chopped up to look just like the basil that you’d already be putting in there! Your fella will never know what hit him! 😀 ~G&S

  14. I do that all the time. Have something I’ve made and want to share but it isn’t the right time. A few weeks or moths later I see the pictures and remember…oh, I have that! Awesome! Speaking of awesome this dish is just that. We love pasta! My guys will eat just about anything so long as it is combined with pasta. Love that is healthy 😀

    • Hey, Cindy! Yeah – we have another recipe we’re posting in a couple of weeks that we photographed clear back last summer, too! And it’s an AWESOME one – we kinda feel like we’ve been holding out on our readers or cheating them a bit because we didn’t get around to posting it sooner! Lol! It’ll be worth the wait, though! 😀 Hope you try this pasta next time you need a super-fast solution (which seems like it’s much of the time, right?!?!) – totally think your crew will love it as much as we do! ~G&S

  15. This looks so good! I’m glad it finally made it onto the blog for all of us to enjoy! I’ve pinned and am ready to give it a try. Plus, I absolutely love all your sneaky ways to add in some extra nutrients…spinach acting as an impostor for basil?! I love it! I had never thought of doing that before.

    • Hi, Kara! I often keep a bag of spinach in the fridge and toss a few healthy leaves into all sorts of things. My kiddos don’t have a problem with spinach, so for me it’s not so much about being sneaky as just about integrating into the dish aesthetically (although it works if you’ve gotta be sneaky, too! :D). I often just chop some up right along with basil anytime basil is specified in pasta, casseroles, salads – whatever. It just adds more lovely green color (and lots of nutrition), and the mild flavor of baby spinach fits right into whatever else the dish has going for it! Yay for versatile spinach!!! 😀 ~Shelley

    • It is soooo wonderful! One of those comforting, satisfying dinners that makes the whole family feel just … happy. And it’s so quick and easy that even busy cooks can feel happy about it, too! 😀 Thanks for popping by, Helen! ~G&S

    • Thanks, Chris! I really do love pasta! You know that classic question … “If you were stranded on a dessert island and could pick just one thing to eat the rest of your life …” Well, I think my one thing would be PASTA! So, I’m always on the lookout for ways to make it yummier and also healthier at the same time! This recipe wins on both counts! Enjoy! 😀 ~Shelley

    • Thanks, Kristi! I totally loooooove pasta, too, and especially with any sort of “pink” tomato-cream sauce! Sadly, those types of sauces are so often fat-laden and really unhealthy … but not this one! It’s decadently, deliciously satisfying yet so much healthier! A must-have, for sure! 😀 ~Shelley

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