Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives
This Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives is a big favorite in my family and I make it occasionally for family parties! You can use a lot less pasta and more sausage, zucchini, peppers, and olives if you want a more carb-conscious dish!
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, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives 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 salad is one that has been a favorite in my family for years; hope you enjoy!
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. 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.
Brown the sausage well on all sides. (I was making a slightly bigger salad than this recipe for the family party, so I used two four-packs of 5th Street Grill Italian Turkey Sausage; this is more sausage than the recipe calls for.) When it’s brown, let sausage cool until it’s cool enough to handle.
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. 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 Treats to Make with Italian Sausage:
Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives
This Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives is a big favorite in my family!
- 2-3 small zucchini, cut in fourths lengthwise, then cut into pieces
- 4-5 links turkey Italian Sausage (hot or mild, but I like hot)
- 3 cups (dry) Dreamfield’s Penne (about 2/3 box)
- 1 can sliced black olives
- 1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red bell peppers
- 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for adding at the table
- 1 cup bottled Italian Vinaigrette (I like Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar salad dressing, or use your favorite dressing without added sugar)
- 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.
- Drain the zucchini well in a colander placed in the sink; then put 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 two, although even 20-30 minutes marinating time will add to the flavor.)
- Drain the olives well (and if you don’t have sliced olives, cut olives in half lengthwise or slices.) Drain the red peppers and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- 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, then cut into slices slightly less than 1/2 inch thick.
- 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.
- When pasta is slightly cooled, mix pasta and and sausage into olive/pepper mixture. 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 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.
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, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives acceptable for phase two or three of the 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. It’s too high in carbs for a low-carb diet plan.
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