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Skillet Penne with Sausage

Adapted from The Make-Ahead Cook, America's Test Kitchen
4 servings
Prep info
20 min prep + 30 min cook
Prep time
Not set
Cook time
45 minutes
Time required
45 minutes
Oven preheat
Mains - Misc


  • 1 T oil
  • broccoli florets (from 1 crown)
  • 1 lb sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 3.5 c chicken broth
  • 225 g penne
  • 1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed; rinsed and chopped)
  • 1/2 t salt - table
  • 3/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t dried basil
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • grated parmesan cheese (for serving)


1. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add broccoli and cook about 3 minutes. Remove to plate.

2. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. 

3. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Stir in broth, water, pasta, tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano. Bring to vigorous simmer and cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender and sauce has thickened, 12 to 15 minutes.

5. Once done, return the broccoli, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with Parmesan.


SJ Note: We don't like spinach, so I've substituted broccoli in this copy.

Why This Recipe Works: For a fast one-dish pasta dinner, we combined penne with hot Italian sausage and ready-to-cook baby spinach. Chopped sun-dried tomatoes provided big, bold flavor. We kept cleanup to a minimum by building the sauce and cooking the pasta right in the skillet. A combination of chicken broth and water provided enough liquid to cook the pasta, and leaving the pan uncovered allowed the sauce to reduce, intensifying its flavor. The starch released from the pasta helped to thicken the sauce. Stirring in the spinach at the end kept its color and flavor bright.

SJ Note 22 Sept 2015: Good start; needs more flavor, so have added some herbs.  Might want more than that.  It was overcooked, so I lowered the time and dropped it from 4.5 cups of liquid to 3.5 cups of liquid (and changed the water to broth to increase flavor).  The broccoli was overdone, so have rearranged its cooking to try to avoid that in the future.  Worth another go.