Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pasta with sausage and cherry tomatoes: A quick back-to-school dinner for #SundaySupper

Just a few days ago, it seemed, long months of summer stretched out before me. And now I find myself a week from the first day of school, preparing to shift into the high gear of fall, planning meals, schedules, days. How does time get away like that?

This week, Sunday Supper is about fast and easy back-to-school meals to help you get a tasty meal on the table fast. I've made one of my favorite go-to dishes: pasta with sausage and cherry tomatoes, which takes advantage of the tomato bounty that's still to be found at the farmers market. But the nice thing about this dish is how incredibly easy it is to vary, using what's in season and at the height of flavor and nutrition. I've provided a few suggestions for variations at the end of the recipe. And don't forget to check out what else is cooking for Sunday Supper this week. This group of bloggers has really served up a bounty of recipes that should help you (and me) get a delicious dinner on the table fast.



  • 1 lb pork sausage (sweet or hot Italian-style as you prefer, casings removed)
  • 1 lb dried pasta (I used rombi in this recipe, but most shapes will do fine)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup half and half or heavy cream (+ more as needed)
  • 1 packed cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Start a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. When it comes to a rolling boil, cook the pasta according to package instructions and drain.
  2. While the water starts to boil and the pasta cooks, start cooking the sausage in a wide, deep pan over medium heat (to render out some of the fat), breaking it up into crumbles as it cooks. (If you use turkey sausage, add some oil to the pan before cooking so that it doesn't dry out.) Cook the sausage until fully cooked and nicely browned. Keep the sausage warm on low heat until you've got about 5 minutes left of pasta cooking time. 
  3. Raise the heat of the pan with the sausage to medium high. Add the crushed garlic to the pan and cook for a minute, stirring frequently. Don't let it burn; burnt garlic is awful.  
  4. Add the tomatoes to the pan. Let them cook for about a minute. 
  5. Add the cheese and the half and half or cream to the pan. Cook until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1-2 minutes. (Add more half and half or cream if the sauce seems too scanty.)
  6. Season the sauce with thyme, white pepper, and red pepper flakes if using. 
  7. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sausage, tomatoes, and sauce. Mix in the pasta and let it soak in the sauce for about a minute or two. Taste it to make sure the seasoning is to your liking. Serve and enjoy.   


  • When the sausage is cooked, add thinly sliced half-moons of two leeks to the pan and let them soften before adding the tomatoes. 
  • Add a sliced bell pepper at about the same time you add the tomatoes.   
  • Add a cup of frozen peas about a minute before you add the garlic.  
  • Instead of using tomatoes, add bite size pieces of broccoli or cauliflower early in the cook time. 
  • Replace the tomatoes with sliced leeks and sugar snap peas. 
  • Add a cup of steamed, cubed butternut squash and a handful of pepitas after cooking the sauce. 

The Sunday Supper Lineup

Here's the whole lineup of quick back-to-school meals from the Sunday Supper group. Don't forget to tune into the chat on Twitter at 7 EST using the hashtag #SundaySupper