Classic Italian sausage and peppers get lightened up in this healthy weeknight recipe by serving them over low carb, super creamy cauliflower puree. All of the flavor, none of the guilt! This weeknight wonder is also Whole30 and paleo friendly, and ready in just 45 minutes.
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Hello, sausage and peppers, my old friend. Let me count the ways that I love you:
- You are colorful.
- You are veggie-packed.
- You are flavorful.
- You are versatile. You can be sweet. Or spicy. Or both!
- You are easy (to prepare, and eat).
This classic comfort food never gets old, but it can get lighter. And healthier. And dare I say it – yummier? Yes, yes it can.
Loaded with veggies and italian spices, this healthier take on sausage and peppers is prepared with real, whole foods (no sugar laden marinara sauce here!), then ladled over creamy, low carb cauliflower mash. It’s the most delicious mash-up! Hehehe.
This weeknight warrior comes together quickly and easily, and is that holy grail of healthy dinners – kid friendly. Woot! Leftovers reheat beautifully, so even if your kids won’t indulge, you can happily do so for lunch the next day.
How to Make Italian Sausage and Peppers
Sausage and peppers, one of the most quintessential Italian comfort foods, gets lightened up in this healthier weeknight version by serving it over creamy cauliflower puree. Lighten it further by using turkey instead of pork sausage.
Brown the sausages. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil, add the sausages, and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. You don’t need to cook the sausages all the way through at this stage – just enough to give the outsides a nice sear, and to render enough of the fat to cook the remainder of the recipe. Remove the browned sausages using tongs and set aside onto a plate to cool.
Sautee the onions and peppers. Add the onions and peppers to the dutch oven, toss to coat in the rendered sausage fat, and sautee until the edges are charred.
Add the chopped garlic and sautee until it’s fragrant, then deglaze the pot with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Be sure to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot while the vinegar bubbles, since they add an extra layer of flavor to the finished sausages and peppers.
Finish the sausage and peppers. The sausages should now be cool enough to handle, so slice them into coins and add them back to the pot, along with the seasonings and a large can of diced fire roasted tomatoes. I use a blend of traditional italian spices, along with a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a kick. If you prefer less spice, leave out the pepper flakes.
I love using fire roasted tomatoes for quick weeknight meals. They add a layer of rich, long-simmered flavor and depth that regular canned tomatoes can’t.
Simmer. Give everything a good toss, then reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the sausages are cooked through – about 10 minutes. Finish the dish with a few tablespoons of fresh chopped basil.
Mmm, hmmm. That’s what I’m talking about! Behold this one-pot weeknight wonder of cozy comfort food.
How to Make Creamy Cauliflower Puree
This creamy, cheesy cauliflower puree is an excellent substitute for traditional starchy pairings with italian sausage and peppers. It also brings one more veggie to the flavor party, and I’m always good with that!
Steam the cauliflower. Chop a head of cauliflower into 2″ florets. Place the cauliflower into a medium sauce pot and add 1 cup chicken stock. Don’t season with salt or pepper at this stage – you’ll be adding parmesan later, so wait to season to taste until you’ve added the cheese or you may end up with an overly salty puree.
Heat over a high flame long enough to bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium/medium low to maintain a simmer. Steam the cauliflower until it’s very tender, 20 minutes or so. It’s ready when you can easily pierce a cauliflower stem with a butter knife or the tines of a fork.
Blend with cheese and season. Remove the steamed cauliflower using a slotted spoon and transfer to a food processor. Add the parmesan cheese, starting with a quarter of a cup and adding up to half a cup. I liked the flavor best at 1/3 cup.
Blend until the cauliflower puree is super smooth, adding the residual cooking liquid a tablespoon at a time as necessary. I ended up using almost all of the cooking liquid to get the right texture.
Finally, taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. I added a half a teaspoon. I skipped the pepper this time since the sausage and peppers already have a nice kick.
Other Sides to Serve with Sausage and Peppers
If you’re not a fan of cauliflower puree, try these other substitutes to keep this sausage and peppers recipe on the lighter side:
- Brown rice
- Stewed white beans
- Crispy roasted potatoes
- Whole wheat or gluten free pasta – we like fettuccine or pappardelle style noodles
Dietary Accommodations, Variations, and Storage
- Naturally gluten free
- Whole30 and paleo optional – simply skip the parmesan in the cauliflower puree and be sure to use sugar-free sausages
- Low carb, with 19g net carbs per serving (including the cauliflower puree)
- One serving provides almost half of your recommended Vitamin A, and a double serving of Vitamin C.
- Use either turkey or pork sausage
- Use mild italian sausage for a sweeter finish, or spicy for an (obviously) spicier finish. Rock a sweet and spicy combo by using sweet italian sausage with 1 tsp red pepper flakes (that’s my personal jam!).
- Leftovers keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up 5 days. Ideally, store the sausage and peppers and cauliflower mash separately.
- Sausage and peppers don’t freeze well, so make what you’ll enjoy within a week.
More Healthy & Hearty Weeknight Dinner Recipes
- Easy Weeknight Picadillo
- Veggie Packed Whole30 Hamburger Soup
- Juicy Thick Cut Pork Chops with Apple Jicama Slaw
- One Pan Sundried Tomato Chicken Thighs
- Italian Sausage Zucchini Boats
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Low Carb Sausage and Peppers over Cauliflower MashPrint Recipe Rate & Comment
Low Carb Sausage and Peppers
- 1 lb sweet italian sausage pork or turkey
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper sliced into 1/2" strips
- 1 green bell pepper sliced into 1/2" strips
- 1 yellow onion sliced into 1/2" strips
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 28-oz can diced fired roasted tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes optional
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 3 tbsp fresh chopped basil
Creamy Cauliflower Puree
- 1 head cauliflower cut into florets
- 1 c chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp sea or kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 - 1/2 c shredded parmesan cheeese
- Start the cauliflower mash. Combine the cauliflower florets and chicken broth in a 4-quart sauce pot. Place over a high flame and heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Cover, reduce to medium/medium-low to maintain a simmer, and steam until the cauliflower is very soft, approximately 20 minutes.
- Heat dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the sausages and sautee 1-2 minutes per side, until browned. The sausage does not need to be fully cooked through at this stage. Remove sausages using tongs and set aside onto a plate. Once cool enough to handle, slice into 1" coins.
- Add peppers and onions to the dutch oven, toss in the rendered sausage fat, and sautee, stirring frequently, until the edges are charred, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sautee until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pot, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Cook until the liquid stops simmering, 1-2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and their juices, spices, and slices sausage coins back to the pot. Stir to combine. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the sausages are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir once or twice to prevent scorching.
- Finish the cauliflower. Remove the cauliflower using a slotted spoon and place into a food processor. Add the parmesan cheese, starting with 1/4 cup, and puree until smooth. Add the residual cooking liquid, a tablespoon at a time, until the consistency is to your liking. Taste for seasoning, and add additional cheese if desired, or salt if needed.
- Stir the fresh basil into the sausage and peppers. Portion the cauliflower puree into bowls, and top with the sausage and peppers. Garnish with additional fresh basil and serve immediately.