Italian sausage, with the characteristic bite and fragrance of fennel or anise seeds, pairs well with peppers and onions, which are likewise staples of Italian cuisine. With these three ingredients plus a few items from your fridge or pantry, you have a surprising array of options for tasty and balanced meals. Whether you're using the hot or sweet variety, Italian sausages are a versatile meat. Cook them whole, slice them up, or remove the skins and treat the seasoned pork like you would any other ground meat.
With any kind of bread in addition to your sausages, peppers and onions, you can make a deliciously messy sandwich in a matter of minutes. Cook Italian sausages whole for giant hotdog-style sandwiches or cut them into thick slices or make meatballs for substantial subs. If you prefer, form sausage patties and serve them in burger buns. Saute thickly sliced onions and peppers in the same pan with the sausages and cook them until they get slightly charred and caramelized at the edges. Melt some cheese over the top of a sandwich for a Philly cheese steak-inspired creation. Heat marinara sauce with the cooked sausage, peppers and onions and spoon the mixture over crusty bread for a hearty sandwich that calls for a knife and fork.
Sausage in Your Soup
To cook Italian sausages in a soup, remove the casings and roll the meat into bite-sized meatballs or crumbles. You can cook the sausage separately first and add it to a soup near the end of the cooking time, or add it directly to the soup to cook with the other ingredients. Chopped peppers and onions can be cooked in the soup too, or sauteed with the sausage meat beforehand for more flavor. If you have time, roast the onions and peppers in the oven before putting them in the soup. Other ingredients that complement the flavors of Italian sausage, peppers and onions include cannellini beans, kale or other dark, leafy greens and fresh or canned tomatoes. To make the soup more substantial, add small pasta shapes or fresh tortellini.
Italian sausage is right at home in pasta dishes, as are onions and peppers. These three basic ingredients, plus pasta and homemade or jarred sauce, combine to create innumerable baked or stovetop meals. Cook whole, sliced or crumbled sausage or meatballs made from sausage in a skillet with onions and peppers and then add sauce for a quick meal, or simmer the meat and vegetables slowly in the sauce. Alternatively, brown and break up sausage meat in a saucepan with diced onions and bell peppers, garlic and herbs. Pour a jar sauce or can of diced tomatoes with juice and simmer. This hearty meat sauce can be served as-is over pasta, blended with par-cooked pasta and baked with a cheesy topping, or used as the meat layer in a lasagna.
Sausage, peppers and onions make tasty toppings for a homemade pizza or even a frozen plain pizza. Crumble sausage meat and saute it before arranging on an uncooked pizza. Cook peppers and onions first if you're making a thin-crust pizza that doesn't take long to bake; otherwise you can slice them thinly and cook them directly on the pizza. Try a gourmet version with caramelized onions, marinated, roasted peppers and high-quality Italian sausage.
Blend Italian sausage meat, diced onion and peppers as a stuffing for baked mushrooms. A dousing of Worcestershire sauce gives these stuffed mushrooms an extra kick. Combine the three ingredients with cubed, stale bread as a stuffing for poultry that you can cook inside the bird or in a separate dish. Slice the stems off whole peppers, fill them with a blend of sausage, onions and cooked rice and bake in the oven.