Spicy Sausage Cavatappi is a creamy, cheesy pasta dish with a kick, made with spicy Italian sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach. If this sounds like a dish you would like, be sure to also try my One Pot Spicy Sausage Pasta.
Spicy Sausage Cavatappi
This dish starts with spicy Italian sausage to give the pasta dish a kick. Then, I added some red pepper flakes to add even more heat. The sauce is made with two kinds of cheese, heavy cream, and sour cream for a creamy sauce that complements the spiciness.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Noodles: I love cavatappi noodles because of their corkscrew shape, which is perfect for soaking up all the sauce. You could, however, use noodles you have on hand, but stick to tubular noodles if possible. Be sure to reserve a cup of pasta water before draining the noodles.
Italian Sausage: Look for spicy ground Italian sausage for the recipe. Or, for less spice, use ground beef, turkey, or even chicken. However, if adding other kinds of meat, you will have to increase the red pepper flakes to achieve the same spiciness.
Sun-dried Tomatoes: If using dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes (like I did), be sure to soak them in water for about 30 minutes before draining, patting them dry, and chopping; this will soften them up. Or, simply drain and chop the sun-dried tomatoes if they are in oil.
Why Reserve Pasta Water?
There are a few pasta recipes I have that recommend reserving pasta water for the sauce (Copycat Carbone’s Spicy Pasta, Vodka Sauce, and Spicy Gnocchi Bread Bowl). But, is it important? Yes! The pasta water is added to the sauce and cooked noodles. The starch from the pasta water also helps bind the sauce and pasta together rather than simply coating the noodles. This gives you a full-flavored taste in every bite!
Can I Adjust the Spiciness?
Sure! There is definitely a kick to each bite (hence, the spicy in the title), but it was a spicy flavor more than just a burst of heat. You can actually adjust the recipe to make the dish more or less spicy. If you want less heat, simply use a milder sausage, ground beef, turkey, or chicken. In addition to using a different kind of meat, you could also lessen or leave out the red pepper flakes. On the other hand, add more red pepper flakes for a spicier bite.
How to Store Spicy Sausage Cavatappi
Leftovers of spicy sausage cavatappi can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last 3-4 days. I recommend reheating it on the stove, if possible. You can add 1 tablespoon of milk or heavy cream per cup of spicy sausage cavatappi when reheating. Stir together after heating and the dish will be wonderfully creamy again.
Spicy Sausage Cavatappi
- 8 ounces cavatappi noodles, cooked al dente according to package instructions, drained, reserving 1 cup of pasta water
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, finely diced (about ¼ cup)
- 1 pound ground spicy Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, softened in hot water, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for garnish
- 1 cup mozzarella, finely shredded
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed
- parsley, chopped, for garnish
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Add cavatappi noodles to a pot of boiling salted water. Cook al dente according to package instructions (8-9 minutes for cavatappi). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
- While noodles are cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil. When hot, add shallots and cook until softened (3-5 minutes).
- Add Italian sausage. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally until the sausage is browned and cooked through (about 10-12 minutes).
- Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute, or until fragrant.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- Add reserved pasta water. Stir to combine, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan as you go. Add heavy cream, sour cream, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine.
- Add spinach, stirring to combine. Simmer until cheese is fully melted and spinach is wilted (5-7 minutes). The sauce will thicken slightly.
- Add the cooked pasta; toss to coat.
- Serve topped with more parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Did you make this recipe?
You can tag me at @iamhomesteader.
This was a huge hit and a keeper for sure. Thank you!
Family said it is one of the best pastas I’ve ever made! Thank you for always making me look like I have skill 🥳
Very good – loved this recipe! The heat level was perfect. Can’t wait to dig into the leftovers!