Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pasta Salad Recipe with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives (Family Favorite)

This Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives is one of my favorites to make for family parties!

Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives

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, 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.  (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.  I used Dreamfields Low-Carb Pasta, which has a low glycemic index.

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.

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.)

And just for fun, here's the photo of this salad from 2007, which I probably thought was pretty good at the time!

Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives
(Makes 6-8 servings, recipe created by Kalyn.)

(Edit - 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.)

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

Dressing Ingredients:
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.)

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.

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. 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.

South Beach Suggestions:
Using Dreamfields pasta and Turkey Italian Sausage makes this 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.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Treats to Make with Italian Sausage:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Italian Sausages with Ratatouille ~ Simply Recipes

Italian Sausage with White Beans and Sage ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

White Beans and Sausage with Tomatoes and Sage from Lucullian Delights

Spicy Cherry Tomato Sauce for Pasta
~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Penne and Rapini with Italian Sausage from Cooking with Amy

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. That looks just like my kind of thing, with or without the turkey sausage. Wonderful recipe!

  2. This looks scrumptious! MMMMM! :)

  3. Kalyn
    Is there a local source (south Salt Lake area) where I can find Dreamfields pasta? I've looked but can't find it. Thanks for terrific recipes.

  4. Lydia and Michelle, thanks.

    Nyla, all the Smith's stores where I shop (2100 South and 5th South) carry Dreamfields. I don't know if every Dreamfields has it, but those two do for sure.

  5. Kalyn, I really love this recipe. What a great dish. Unfortunatelly I have no italian ( or similar sausages) at home tonigh, not the peppers.I will improvise a bit and use chicken and normal peppers - just to make do.When I get those two ingredients over the weekend I will have to prepare the dish again ( oh, such hard work!! ; o ).
    I love the step by step photoes plus all the other recipes to use italian sausage. YOu are amazing. I have to say.

  6. Yum, that looks great. I'm a big fan of pasta salad, especially if it's heavy on the veggies!

    Incidentally, I make a hot casserole very similar to what you described in this post. In a non-stick pan, I cook turkey sausage, with onions and various other veggies, then toss with some chopped tomatoes and a little bit of shredded cheese and some al dente penne (I prefer Barilla Plus) and pop it all in the oven for about 10 minutes. I get lots of compliments on this!

  7. Valentina, thanks. I'm guessing it would be good with lots of variations for the meat or vegetables I used. I keep meaning to try making it with marinated mushrooms. I think that would be a good addition. And I don't think I'm that amazing, but I do try and thanks for noticing.

    Polly, keep meaning to try Barilla Plus. I've heard good things about it from other people too. Your baked pasta dish sounds fantastic.

    Laurie, thanks.

  8. Wow! Every ingredient in here is fabulous, except for maybe the zucchini. But, I think I could tolerate the veggie if it gets mixed with all these other yummy foods....Great recipe!

  9. It does look wonderful. I love the red bowl that adds to the party feel!

    Thanks so much for taking part in Presto Pasta Night. Hope you'll be back soon with more South Beach Diet friendly pasta recipes.

  10. Kalyn-
    As always this looks delicious. I will be making this one. However, I thought I might add some pine nuts, are they South Beach approved? I've been making a lot of your recipes lately (trying to lose that pesky baby weight!)
    Thanks for the wonderful, healthy choices!

  11. Chris, be brave. The marinated zucchini actually tastes great.

    Ruth, I love my new red bowl. Have a new green one just like it too.

    Brady, pine nuts sound like a great addition. There's no reason you can't have them on South Beach, but keep in mind that they are adding more fat to something that has quite a bit of fat already (with cheese and oil in the dressing.) I bet they'd be great though!

  12. Duh, I just noticed in the comment to Nyla I wrote "I don't know if every Dreamfields has it" and I meant to write "I don't know if every Smiths has it." (This is what happens when I frantically try to respond to comments when the students are at recess.)

  13. holy crap! i just discovered this blog (googled tzatziki sauce)and have printed out like 5 recipes already! Lovin it so far... will get back on the recipes when i make them.

  14. Anonymous, thanks, and so glad you like the looks of the blog.

  15. My BF and I made this salad together...he actually grilled the turkey sausage and I prepped the rest. We used the dreamfields pasta and it turned out wonderful. It is so pretty and tasty! Great summer salad. I am loving all these 'salads' that are full of things other than lettuce!

  16. Beachchica, how fun. This is a big favorite in my family.

  17. Not only does this pasta salad look great, but that photo...gorgeous!

  18. Thanks Dara. I appreciate that so much. I'm working on it!

  19. So much fun to see the old photos with the new!

  20. Thanks Lydia. I admit, I am really enjoying updating these old favorite recipes.

  21. This is total comfort food! Definitely awesome when something not quite planned turns out so well. Droolworthy photos of a recipe I have to try.

  22. Thanks Kelly. So glad you like it and especially glad you like the photos. Like I told Dara, I am trying!


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