Creamy Marsala Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage & Mushrooms

Creamy Marsala Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage & Mushrooms


With the perfect balance of spicy-subtly sweet-savory flavor, this Creamy Marsala Pasta is an all-time favorite!
  • 8 ounces rigatoni or short pasta of choice
  • heaping ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1–2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound bulk spicy Italian sausage (or mild, as desired)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 16 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • optional: up to 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 cup dry marsala wine (see Recipe Notes)
  • ½ cup chicken stock or broth
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • heaping ⅓ cup grated parmesan
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: grated parmesan or pecorino romano, finely chopped basil or parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, etc.
  1. Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. Toast the walnuts: Meanwhile, as the pasta boils, toast the walnuts. Add the walnuts to a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast, monitoring closely & shaking occasionally to prevent burning, for 3-4 minutes, just until toasty & fragrant. Transfer toasted walnuts to a plate & set aside. Carefully wipe out the skillet & return to medium heat.
  3. Brown the Italian sausage: Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the same skillet used to toast the walnuts in Step 2, increasing the heat to medium-high . Once hot & shimmering, add in the Italian sausage. Cook 5-6 minutes, until browned & rendered, using a wooden spoon to break the sausage into fine bite-sized crumbles as it cooks. If the sausage starts to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low. Once browned, transfer the sausage to a plate & set aside.
  4. Cook the aromatics: If needed, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Once hot & shimmering, add in the yellow onion & cremini mushrooms. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper, as desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions & mushrooms soften & begin to caramelize – this will take 8-10 minutes as we’re after nice, browned color. Stir in the garlic & crushed red chili flakes (if using) & cook for an additional minute or so, until fragrant.
  5. Build the creamy marsala sauce: Deglaze the pan by slowly pouring in the marsala wine & chicken stock. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pan. Add in the browned sausage & toasted walnuts, stirring to combine. Bring everything to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium or medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Stir in the heavy cream & grated parmesan. Cook 3-4 minutes more, stirring occasionally, to allow everything to meld together. At this point, the pasta should be ready to drain.
  6. Finish the pasta marsala: Add the pasta to the skillet. Toss to coat with the creamy marsala sauce. Adjust as needed so the marsala sauce evenly coats the pasta – if the mixture is too thick, toss in a little reserved pasta water; if the mixture is too loose, toss in an extra handful of parmesan cheese, etc. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, allowing the pasta to meld with & absorb some of the sauce. Remove from the heat.
  7. Serve immediately, topped with additional grated parmesan, chopped basil or parsley, &/or a sprinkling of crushed red pepper, as desired. Enjoy!

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