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Creamy Skillet Penne with Sausage and Broccoli


We wanted to freshen the flavors of Creamy Skillet Penne with Sausage and Broccoli, an often stodgy pasta dish—and make the cooking and cleanup easier, too. To do this, we used a full pound of Italian sausage for a hearty and meaty dish. Sautéed onion, red bell pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes bumped up the sauce’s flavor. Toasting the pasta with the vegetables (before adding the liquid) enhanced its nutty flavor. For perfectly cooked broccoli, we waited until the pasta is halfway done cooking, then nestled the broccoli on top, cover the skillet, and steamed the florets until al dente. Fresh basil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese added at the end of cooking rounded out the flavors of our Creamy Skillet Penne with Sausage and Broccoli.

One large head of broccoli should yield about 8 ounces of florets. Alternatively, bags of cut broccoli florets are available in the produce section of most supermarkets, or you can package your own at supermarket salad bars.

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  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 8 ounces penne pasta (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper


Adapted from


Step 1

1. Cook sausage in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain sausage on paper towel-lined plate.

2. Cook onion and bell pepper in sausage fat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add penne and cook, stirring often, until pasta is lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, broth, cream, and reserved sausage and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften, about 8 minutes.

3. Arrange broccoli on top of pasta and continue to cook, covered, until broccoli is bright green and tender and pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Off heat, stir in Parmesan, basil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

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