This lightly creamy sausage pasta is a great way to stretch a little bit of inexpensive meat to feed many, and with this versatile recipe, you can use up whatever veg you have in the fridge.
In our house, we call this sausage pasta dish ‘Woolies surprise.’ The recipe came about when we got a bunch of random groceries delivered during the peak of the pandemic-induced supply-chain crisis.
Out went the menu plan, and I had to think of a way to use up cherry tomatoes, Italian sausages, and a block of cream cheese, none of which we ordered. In a serendipitous turn of events, we created a recipe that became a family favourite.
What We Love About this Creamy Sausage Pasta Recipe
This is a versatile and inexpensive meal. While in the photographed version, I’m using leftover spinach (and hidden in there is half a leftover zucchini), you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.
In the original iteration, we used cream cheese to make this creamy, but a cup of pouring cream is my preferred ingredient. That’s the thing about pasta dishes; you can mix and match to use up what you have.
Sausage Pasta Ingredients and Costs
The great thing about this recipe is that a lot of the flavour comes from the Italian sausage, so you don’t need to add much extra seasoning. It’s also a quick and easy weeknight meal that’s budget-friendly.
Ingredients for the basic recipe include:
- Short pasta – any type you like; I used spiral.
- Italian sausage – I use fennel pork sausages. A roll of sausage mince is a cheap alternative.
- Cherry tomatoes – or you can cut up regular tomatoes.
- Cream cheese – see substitutions below.
- Baby spinach – see substitutions below.
- Garlic – I find garlic in a jar a convenient and cost-effective alternative to fresh garlic.
- Tomato paste – optional but gives extra flavour.
This pasta dish feeds a family of four for a little under $12 (less than $3 a serve) based on costs from Woolworths Australia January 2023. We always have leftovers for lunch the next day, although my daughter isn’t a huge dinner eater, so how much leftovers this dish will make may vary.
The dish only uses half the pasta, cream cheese, and sausages, so you can freeze the sausages and have a variation of this dish again the following week with only the cost of extra vegetables.
Customise Your Dish – Substitutions and Variations
Pasta dishes are super versatile – they’re a great way to use up leftovers in the fridge and freezer.
Any sausages will do with this recipe – chicken sausage or pork sausage would both work, but if you get flavoured sausage meat, you get heaps of flavour without adding extra ingredients (and extra cost).
Substitute the cream cheese with:
- Cream – pouring, thickened or light. I always keep a few packs of long-life cream in the pantry – they come in handy when you need some cream, and they store for ages because they don’t require refrigerating until open.
- Sour cream – a great way to use leftover sour cream. Remove the pan from the heat to prevent the sour cream from curdling.
- Evaporated milk – another pantry staple that is useful to have on hand. Thicken with a mixture of corn flour and cold evaporated milk.
- Regular milk – thicken with a mixture of corn flour and milk.
Substitute the spinach or add extra vegetables, including:
- Frozen peas – a cheap and convenient option that adds extra fibre to the dish
- Green beans – fresh or frozen
- Broccoli – finally chop
- Zucchini – chop into half moons
- Capsicum (bell pepper)
- Kale – fresh or frozen
- Sun-dried tomatoes
If you’re adding extra vegetables, chop them into bite-size pieces and cook in step 2 of the recipe.
What to Serve With Sausage Pasta
This creamy sausage pasta dish is an entire meal, so you don’t have to serve any sides. However, if you would like a side to make the meal go further, some ideas include:
- Garlic bread – homemade or store-bought
- Green salad – with leafy greens and cucumber
- Sautéd green vegetables like zucchini or broccoli
You can also top this pasta with the following:
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese – or you can use powdered parmesan cheese
- Black pepper – freshly ground black pepper is always lovely on pasta
- Fresh basil – tear a few leaves over the top
- Fresh parsley – roughly chop the parsley and sprinkle over the top
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
To store leftover sausage pasta, transfer leftovers to an airtight container, and let it cool for 10-20 minutes before storing it in the fridge.
Leftover sausage pasta can be stored in the fridge for up to two days.
Pasta can also be stored in a labelled, airtight container in the freezer for up to three months, although freezing will affect the texture of the cooked pasta.
Defrosted creamy sausage pasta can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Microwave – place a single serve of leftover pasta in a microwave-safe container. Add a spoonful of water. Cover with a paper towel or lid that allows steam to vent and microwave for one minute. Stir and continue to heat for 30 seconds or until heated through. You can add extra water or milk if the sauce is too dry.
- On the stove – place a single serve of leftover pasta into a saucepan. Add a spoonful of water. Heat on low, stirring, until warmed through. You can add extra water or milk if the sauce is too dry.
Food Standards Australia recommend heating leftovers to at least 60C (140C). I have this digital thermometer at home (Amazon link), and I use it all the time to ensure food is cooked to a safe temperature without overcooking it.
More Creamy Pasta Recipes to Try
We’re a big fan of creamy pasta recipes in our home. Here are some of our favourites:
- Creamy Rosemary and Mushroom Sauce for Pasta
- Leftover Chicken and Pea Pasta
- Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Pasta
- 250g short pasta (we use about half a 500g pack for four people, but you can add extra to stretch this meal even further)
- 3 Italian sausages (we get pork and fennel)
- 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 120g cream cheese (light or regular) - see note
- a handful of baby spinach
- extra vegetables of choice (optional) - see note
- Cook pasta according to the directions on the packet. Drain, keeping aside about 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add a little olive oil and cook sausages until cooked through. Remove the sausages from the heat, slice, and set aside.
- If using extra vegetables, add a bit extra oil to the pan and cook, stirring for 2-4 minutes until cooked through.
- Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, and garlic to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the cream cheese through the tomato mixture until melted.
- Add the pasta, sausages, and spinach to the pan and heat gently over low heat until warmed through and the spinach starts to wilt. If the sauce is too dry, loosen it by adding a little of the reserved pasta cooking water and stirring to combine. Add a little at a time until you have the right consistency.
- Serve topped with parmesan cheese if desired.
If you don't have cream cheese, you can use sour cream or regular cream. Take the pan off the heat when using sour cream, so it doesn't split.
Use any vegetables, including zucchini, spinach, peas, broccoli, kale, mushrooms, capsicum (bell pepper),
Substitute with tinned tomatoes.
You can skin the sausages before cooking, and cook, breaking up, as you would mince (ground meat).
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 423Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 538mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 18g
Nutritional information is calculated automatically using the Nutritionix database. Nutrition information can vary for a recipe based on factors such as precision of measurements, brands, ingredient freshness, serving size or the source of nutrition data. We strive to keep the information as accurate as possible but make no warranties regarding its accuracy. We encourage readers to make their own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.