Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage
This Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage also has zucchini, roasted red pepper, and olives, and this is a big favorite in my family! Check below if you’d like lower-carb options for pasta salads like this one.
Have you ever made a mistake that turned out to have such a happy result that you didn’t mind it at all? That’s how I felt last Saturday after I started to make this Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage to take to a family party in honor of my niece Sophie’s baptism. I had just started cooking the zucchini and had the sausage browning, when I realized I needed to call to get directions to the celebration. Then my niece’s husband gently told me that the baptism was *next* Saturday.
Okay, so I felt a bit foolish, but since this recipe had been in need of new photos for the longest time I now had a free day and plenty of time to take photos. And I was able to give most of the salad to my sister Pam, who wasn’t feeling great that day, so she didn’t have to make dinner for her family! This pasta salad with Italian sausage, zucchini, roasted red peppers, and olives is one that has been a favorite in my family for years; hope you enjoy!
What ingredients do you need for this recipe?
- turkey Italian Sausage, or use pork sausage if you prefer
- Dreamfield’s Penne (affiliate link) or other penne pasta of your choice
- sliced black olives
- Roasted Red Peppers in a jar (affiliate link)
- coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
- Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing (affiliate link) or other low-sugar vinaigrette
- chopped fresh basil
- Dried Basil (affiliate link)
What if you don’t have fresh basil?
If you don’t have any fresh basil, you can use basil pesto to make the dressing.
Want lower-carb ideas for pasta salad?
Check out No-Pasta Low-Carb Salad with Zucchini, Italian Sausage, Red Pepper, and Olives for a lower-carb salad with similar flavors. You might also like my Low-Carb Italian Pasta Salad that’s made with Palmini Low-Carb Linguini (affiliate link).
How to Make Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage:
(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)
- Zucchini is probably optional in this salad, but when it’s zucchini season I like add it. Cook about 2 cups of cut up zucchini for about five minutes in barely simmering water, then drain well.
- While the zucchini cooks mix the dried and fresh (or frozen) basil into the dressing.
- Marinate the zucchini in about 1/4 cup of the dressing mixture. If you can marinate this for a few hours, that’s the best, but even 20-30 minutes marinating time will add a lot of flavor.
- Brown the sausage well on all sides. When it’s brown, let sausage cool until it’s cool enough to handle. (I used my favorite Italian sausage for this recipe.)
- Chop up the roasted red peppers into bite-sized pieces.
- These big cans of sliced olives are a product I’m loving, so I used them in this salad, but if you can’t find them you can just use regular olives and cut them in slices or halves.
- While the sausage cools, cook the pasta according to minimum cooking time on package direction; don’t overcook. Rinse briefly with very cold water and let it drain well.
- When the sausage is well browned, let it cool enough to handle and cut into slices about 3/8 inch thick. I was making a big salad for the party, so this is more sausage than the recipe calls for!
- Mix together the drained pasta, cooled sausage, diced red peppers, and sliced olives.
- Then mix in the marinating zucchini with any of the dressing that is in the bag.
- Gently mix in the rest of the dressing, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. (I prefer coarsely grated Parmesan for this salad, but any type will be good.)
- The salad is best when it chills in the fridge for at least an hour in the fridge, and leftovers will stay good in the fridge for a day or two.
More Tasty Ideas with Italian Sausage:
- 3 small zucchini, cut in fourths lengthwise, then cut into pieces
- 5 links turkey Italian Sausage (see notes)
- 3 cups (dry) Dreamfield’s Penne (about 2/3 box)
- one 6 oz. can sliced black olives
- one 12 oz. jar roasted red bell peppers
- 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for adding at the table
- 1 cup Newman’s Own Classic Oil and Vinegar salad dressing (see notes)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (Or use frozen basil)
- 1 T dried basil
- Cut zucchini lengthwise into fourths, then cut into pieces about 3/4 inch long. Cook zucchini about 5 minutes in boiling, salted water, then drain well and cool.
- While the zucchini cooks, wash fresh basil and chop finely (or thaw the frozen basil.) Mix fresh or frozen basil and dried basil into the dressing.
- Put well-drained zucchini into small Ziploc bag with about 1/4 cup of the dressing and let it marinate on the counter until you’re ready to assemble the salad. (If you can let this marinate for an hour or so that will add flavor, although even 20-30 minutes marinating time will be good.)
- Saute sausage in small amount of olive oil in large frying pan until it is firm and nicely browned on all sides. Remove from pan and let cool until it’s is cool enough to handle.
- Drain the red peppers and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Drain the olives well (and if you don’t have sliced olives, cut olives in half lengthwise or slices.)
- While sausage is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta 9-10 minutes, or until still slightly al dente. (Be careful not to cook it until it is soft or it will be mushy in the salad. Slightly underdone is better than overdone if you’re not sure.) Briefly rinse pasta with very cold water, then drain in colander and let cool.
- After it cools, cut the sausage into slices slightly less than 1/2 inch thick.
- When pasta is slightly cooled, mix pasta, sausage, olives. and diced peppers.
- Add zucchini and any dressing which is in the bag.
- Add the rest of the dressing mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and mix gently.
- Chill the salad for 1 hour or more if possible. Serve with additional coarsely-grated Parmesan to add at the table.
- This will keep for a day or so in the refrigerator, but you might want to add a little extra dressing before serving the leftovers.
This dressing can be made with fresh basil or frozen basil. I use my favorite Italian sausage for this recipe. I use Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing (affiliate link) because it's low in sugar; use any low-sugar vinaigrette you prefer.
This salad is great with roasted peppers from a jar, but if you want to bump up the flavor with freshly roasted red peppers, here is How to Roast Red Bell Peppers on a Barbecue Grill.
This recipe created by Kalyn many years ago to make a pasta salad with favorite summer ingredients.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 474Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 483mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 12g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Using whole-grain pasta and Turkey Italian Sausage makes this Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage acceptable for phase two or three of the original South Beach Diet, but it’s still probably a “once in a while treat” if you’re actively dieting, due to the amount of cheese and the fat content. This is high in carbs for a low-carb diet plan, but you might like my Low-Carb Italian Pasta Salad that’s made with Palmini Low-Carb Linguini (affiliate link).
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes for more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2007! The photos were updated in 2013, when I accidentally made the salad a week early for a family party. The post was updated with more information and options for a low-carb pasta salad in 2021.