Slow Cooker Spicy Sausage and Mushroom Pasta

This slow cooker spicy sausage and mushroom pasta is a perfect weeknight remedy to cure the winter blues. 

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Slow Cooker Spicy Sausage and Mushroom Pasta 

With the madness of the holidays in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get back to buisiness. The buisiness of simple, approachable weeknight dinner recipes. This comforting slow cooker spicy sausage and mushroom pasta is one of my husband’s favorite slow cooker recipes, which makes complete sense because this recipe is inspired by one of his mother’s go-to weeknight one pan dinners, which she made frequently.

While one can never go wrong with roasted spicy italian sausages and veggies wrapped in warm flour tortillas for an incredibly simple dinner, I have been finding myself craving pasta the past couple of weeks. So, I figured let’s take a family staple and kick it up a notch and turn it into something entirely different.

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Not that it should surprise anyone, but I tend to gravitate towards hearty wine-based sauces when it comes to pasta. While this recipe does have a small amount of red wine in it, it’s not a red sauce pasta. Unlike penne all’arrabbiata and easy cheesy pasta, this recipe is best when cooked slowly (hence the slow cooker) instead of quickly on the stovetop, which makes it such a great weeknight dinner or even a casual Sunday supper with friends, crunchy bread, and a great bottle of wine. 

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Speaking of wine, I cannot stress it enough how important it is to cook with quality wine. I am a huge believer of cooking with wine that you also enjoy drinking. If you won’t drink two buck chuck, why would you cook with it? In the past, before I really understood how quality wine could elevate my recipes, I certainly was guilty of buying cheap bottles of wine to cook with… but that bad habit ended ages ago. Instead, I regularly seek out wine that I not only enjoy drinking, but also see the merit in cooking with.

A couple of years ago, I recieved a bottle of wine from Donati Family Vineyard in a Williams-Sonoma wine club shipment. I’d driven by the vineyard dozens and dozens of times and (incorrectly) assumed they were bulk wine grape growers. Oops. After tasting more of their wines at a block party, I quickly realized that many of their affordable wines drink incredibly well and are also extremely food friendly. Their 2014 Cabernet Franc matches nicely with the spicy sausage in this slow cooker recipe, as well as Italian sausages in general. Since affordable Cabernet Franc can be difficult to find on the Central Coast, I always try to keep several bottles of this gem lying around, and think you should, too. :) 

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1 1/2 pound fresh hot Italian pork sausages

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic, smashed

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2/3 cup chicken stock

1 pound fresh mushrooms, cut into thick slices

1 pound dried penne

olive oil for drizzling

1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or Parmesan cheese

1 small bunch baby arugula, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped


Preheat the broiler. Arrange the sausages on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Broil, turning as needed, until golden brown all over, 8–9 minutes total. Cut the sausages into chunks on the diagonal.

In a slow cooker, stir together the shallot, celery, bell pepper, garlic, pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper pepper. Top with the sausage pieces, and add the wine, vinegar, and stock. Cover and cook on the low 4 hours, stirring a couple of times. Uncover, add the mushrooms, and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. The sausage pieces should be cooked through and the mushrooms very tender but not floppy.

With 15 minutes left to cook the sausages and mushrooms, bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente, according to directions on the package. Drain the pasta. In a warm serving bowl, combine the pasta with the sausage and mushroom mixture and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle the cheese and arugula over the top, and serve at once.

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