Decadent and sumptuous, this Creamy, Cheesy Italian Sausage and Basil Penne pasta is comfort food at its best. Italian sausage, fragrant with fennel, is sautéed with garlic and onion, combined with cream, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil, and then tossed with hot buttered penne. Elegant, yet so quick and easy, it’s one of those dishes I keep in my back pocket for busy weeknights.
Creamy, Cheesy Italian Sausage and Basil Penne is best served right after combining the sauce and the pasta. The sauce can be made ahead and gently reheated before tossing with the penne just before serving. If I cook this dish an hour or so in advance, I keep the hot, buttered pasta warm by wrapping it in a blanket and mix it with the sauce at the last minute.
For the Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (1.5oz, 42g)
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine or put through the garlic press
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage (454g) **see note**
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or a mix of dried basil, thyme, marjoram, and oregano)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup chicken broth (8.3oz, 235g)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (12.6oz, 357g)
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2.6oz, 74g)
- handful of fresh basil, sliced thin
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Penne
- 1 lb penne pasta (454g)
- 1 tablespoon butter (.5oz, 14g)
For the Penne:
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until al dente. Drain and toss with butter.
For the Sauce:
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until it is soft and translucent.
- Remove the sausage from casings and add to the pan. Cook until browned.
- Add Italian seasoning, bay leaf, chicken broth, and heavy cream. Let simmer on low for 15 minutes.
- Off the heat, stir in parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss with hot buttered penne and serve immediately.
**If your sausage doesn’t contain fennel seed, toast 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds in a pan until they become aromatic, then pound in a mortar and pestle and add to sausage.
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