Penne alla Salsiccia e Ocra (Sausage and Okra with Penne Pasta)

Pasta with sausage and okra, is by no means classical Italian food. However, the combination of sweet Italian sausage simmered with okra largely creates its own magical sauce with very few, common ingredients — and you can be eating in 25 minutes. It is definitely more delicious than the sum of its ingredients.

Okra is a rarity in Italian cuisine, and I usually have to buy it at Sri Lanka markets as opposed to in the US where one can easily find it at regular supermarkets. The growing season typically runs through October, and I love this super simple dish so much I wanted to get you the recipe while you still have time to buy okra.

I know… three posts in a row have been primi piatti (“first dishes,” in Italian), which are usually pastas, gnocchi or risottos. As the weather gets cooler, I find much comfort in preparing and eating these dishes. This one, with the sausage and okra, is the easiest and quickest to prepare so I hope you give it a whirl.

Also see:

Arliano Update (Aggiornamento Arliano):

I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel for our home renovation. The workers scrubbed the tile floors to the point where we can now remember why we chose them to begin with.  The doors and windows arrived and are being installed. Yee-haw! The electrical work is alllllmost done and baseboards will soon be mounted. It’s looking like a home inside the house as compared to the outside, which still looks like where a junk yard dog might find comfort.

Sweet Italian Peppers are still coming in strong, and the butternut and other winter squash will be ready to harvest shortly. We’ll see if the cabbage survives any early frosts before they are ready. Otherwise, it’s a wrap for garden 2022.


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Penne alla Salsiccia e Ocra


* 2 cups (200 grams) dried penne pasta, or other dried pasta of your choice
* 8 ounces okra, stems trimmed
* 3 fat sweet sausage links (8-10 ounces, total)
* 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
* 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt for pasta water
* Salt, ground black pepper, and crushed red chili peppers to taste
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


  1. Remove the casings from the sausage and break the sausage into little pieces, discarding the casings. I find the easiest way to do this is to make a gentle vertical slice along the long side of the sausage and then peel the casing back. See photo
  2. Trim ends from okra, then cut them into roughly 1-inch (2 cm) pieces. Set aside
  3. Bring a large pot (about 4 quarts) of salted water to a rapid boil. As soon as the water comes to a rapid boil, drop in the penne pasta, and cook for two minutes LESS than the package instructions. For example, the brand I use, Rummo, says to cook for 12-14 minutes, so I take it out at 10 minutes. All brands are different, so check your package
  4. As soon as you start boiling the pasta, begin cooking the sausage bits over a medium heat in a large frying pan. When the sausage is still pink, add the okra, plus 3/4 cup of water. Close the pan with a lid slightly ajar and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer the sausage and okra for 10-12 minutes. Stir, and check the liquid level periodically to ensure that the pan hasn’t dried out. Add more water as needed. Add the garlic, black pepper, and pepper flakes in the last minute of cooking
  5. As soon as the penne is mostly cooked (again, two minutes shy of the package directions), transfer it to the pan with the sausage and okra using a slotted spoon or a “kitchen spider.” Add 1 cup of the pasta water to the pan and raise the heat to medium high. Continuously stir the pasta, sausage and okra until the pasta water is mostly gone. See the photos for an example
  6. Turn off the heat and add the butter and stir until it is incorporated into the pasta. Taste to see if you need to add salt. Divide the pasta into two pasta dishes and serve

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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