Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage

$5.75 recipe / $1.44 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 9 votes
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I’m all about making sure the last little odds and ends of ingredients in my fridge or freezer get used up. So this week, instead of making just another batch of plain pasta and red sauce, I jazzed it up with a little leftover heavy cream, the last of a bag of spinach, and some Italian sausage instead of ground beef. Simple swaps and add-ins make this Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage a level up from your usual weeknight pasta!

Overhead view of a pan full of Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage with a spoon in the side

What’s in the Creamy Tomato Sauce?

This red sauce is basically the same as the sauce for my Baked Ziti, which is super rich and tomatoey. To calm the acidity a bit and make it extra lush, I added a little heavy cream. The addition of the cream is absolutely magic.

Can I Substitute the Heavy Cream?

I sometimes melt a little cream cheese into my pasta sauces, which creates a creamy and tangy finish, so that’s one option (use 2-4 ounces). The other option is to just leave it out and keep it as a basic red sauce. You do not want to use milk or another lower-fat dairy product because the combination of the heat and the acid from the tomatoes will likely cause it to curdle. Another reason why the heavy cream is magic.

Can I Use a Different Pasta?

Absolutely! Since the pasta is cooked separately, unlike one pot pastas, you can use any type or shape of pasta that you like. And you don’t have to worry too much about measuring, just use approximately half of a one pound package.

What Other Vegetables Can I Use?

I think kale would be especially good with this combo, but since it’s quite a bit more sturdy than spinach you’ll want to sauté it in the skillet for a couple of minutes (after the sausage is browned) to soften it up. You could also try tossing in some thawed frozen broccoli florets.

A bowl full of Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage with garlic bread and a fork
Pictured with Homemade Garlic Bread.
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Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage

5 from 9 votes
A few simple add-ins make this Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage a level up from your usual weeknight spaghetti dinner.
Author: Beth – Budget Bytes
front view of a bowl full of creamy tomato pasta with sausage, a bit lifted on the fork
Servings 4
Prep 5 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (hot, mild or sweet) ($2.25)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste ($0.10)
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes ($0.85)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend ($0.10)
  • 1/2 cup water ($0.00)
  • 1/2 lb. pasta* ($1.25)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream ($0.19)
  • 4 oz. fresh spinach ($0.85)

Instructions 

  • Add the Italian sausage to a deep skillet or pot and cook over medium heat, breaking it up into pieces as it cooks. Mince two cloves of garlic, add it to the browned sausage, and sauté for 1 minute more.
  • Next, add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and water. Stir to combine and dissolve the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer. Once simmering, place a tilted lid on top (to allow steam to escape while blocking splatter) and turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes, depending on the variety). Drain the pasta in a colander.
  • After the pasta has cooked and the sauce has simmered a while, stir the heavy cream into the pasta sauce. Add the fresh spinach and stir it into the sauce just until wilted.
  • Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. Serve and enjoy!

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Notes

*I used corkscrew pasta, or cavatappi, but you can use any shape you like.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 542.08kcalCarbohydrates: 61.88gProtein: 23gFat: 23.78gSodium: 843.95mgFiber: 6.55g
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Close up side view of a skillet full of creamy tomato pasta with sausage

How to Make Creamy Tomato Pasta with Sausage – Step by Step Photos

Browned sausage and garlic in the skillet

Add ½ lb. Italian sausage (mild, hot, or sweet) to a deep skillet or pot and cook over medium heat until browned, breaking it up into pieces as you go. Mince two cloves of garlic, add them to the browned sausage and sauté for one minute more.

Tomatoes and herbs added to browned sausage

Add 2 Tbsp tomato paste, one 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, and ½ cup water. Stir to combine and dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Plate a tilted lid on top (so that steam can escape but it shields splattering sauce) and let the sauce come up to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta.

Cooked cavatappi pasta in a colander

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add ½ lb. pasta (I used cavatappi) and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the pasta in a colander.

Cream being stirred into the sauce

After the sauce has simmered a while (the length of time it takes to cook the pasta), stir in ⅓ cup heavy cream. MAGIC!

fresh spinach added to the sauce

Next, add about 4oz. fresh spinach (half of an 8oz. bag) and stir it in until wilted.

drained pasta added to the sauce

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.

Finished creamy tomato pasta with sausage in the skillet

Done and done!

front view of a bowl full of creamy tomato pasta with sausage, a bit lifted on the fork

I served it with some of my Homemade Garlic Bread because that crispy garlicky goodness is perfect with red sauce!

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  1. Made this last night for dinner out of the sweet Italian sausage I had instead of our usual hot. Easy fix – I added a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the sausage while it was browning! I also added chopped mushroom to the browning sausage because we love them in pasta. When it came time to add the cream, I realized my husband had taken my cream to work with him for his coffee. So I had to adjust at the last minute, and I ended up adding a spoonful or 2 of ricotta cheese when I was mixing the noodles into the sauce (adding the cheese off the heat since everything was hot enough to melt the cheese into the sauce). Great recipe and super easy to adjust depending on what you have on hand. Thanks for sharing a great weeknight meal!!!

    1. One quarter of the total recipe. With oddly shaped pasta like this, the actual volume can vary depending on how you measure, so I just estimated ¼ of the total recipe as a serving.