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Photo+by+John+Milliken
Photo by John Milliken

Photo by John Milliken

Photo by John Milliken

Slow-Cooker Italian Sausage

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, it’s the perfect time for warm, savory meals in the slow-cooker. This is a very easy recipe for one of the best comfort foods – Italian sausage and pasta.

Serves six.

Ingredients:

12 links (about 2 lbs) of Italian sausage

6 red or green (or some of each) bell peppers

1 onion

2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes

1 lb box of pasta (I used gluten-free penne, but you can use whatever kind you want)

4 tbsps olive oil, divided

1 tbsp salt (for boiling the pasta)

Directions:

 

Photo by Samuel Milliken

 

Chop the peppers and onions in quarters, and cut each quarter into strips. Set aside.

Photo by Samuel Milliken

Heat a large pan with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat. Put the sausage in the pan and cook it for a few minutes, then flip it and cook the other side for a few minutes. You’re not cooking it all the way through, just browning it. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Photo by Samuel Milliken

Turn the heat to low and add another tbsp. of olive oil. Add the peppers and onions and cook for a few minutes, covered, until the vegetables begin to soften. Again, you don’t have to cook them completely.

Photo by John Milliken

 

Use the remaining 2 tbsps. of olive oil to grease the inside of the crock in the slow-cooker. Open the cans of crushed tomatoes. Put a thin layer of crushed tomato in the bottom of the crock, then add the rest of the ingredients in layers, as follows: first, six links of sausage, then half of the peppers and onions, then half of the remaining crushed tomatoes, then the other six links of sausage, then the rest of the peppers and onions, with the rest of the crushed tomatoes on top.

Cook in the slow-cooker on high for four hours or on low for eight hours. The sausage is safe to eat when its internal temperature reaches 170° F, but you may want to cook it longer so that the sausage and vegetables have time to soften up more.

 

Photo by John Milliken

While the sausage finishes cooking in the crockpot, fill a large saucepan or a stockpot with 4-6 quarts of water and the tbsp. of salt. Bring it to a boil, then add the pasta and cook, stirring frequently. Look at the package for directions on cooking time, but it’s a good idea to start checking for doneness several minutes before it says, to avoid over-cooking. To check it, use a long wooden spoon to take out a piece of the pasta and taste it (being careful not to burn yourself!). Drain when cooked.

Enjoy!

 

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