Penne alla Norcina

5 stars
(1 ratings)
Penne alla Norcina

Oh March… you may be only a calendar month, but you sure feel like a season unto yourself. You bring sun and snow, sleet and rain, crocuses and 4 leaf clovers, warm days followed by freezing ones, longer days but darker mornings. Granted, I no longer live in Maine, where March truly can be an evil extension of winter, even if spring technically arrives in just 2 days. But, in Los Angeles we’ve seen our fair share of rain this winter… so much so that last weekend, with the first taste of warm sunshine on my face, I headed to the garden center and may or may not have bought enough colorful annuals to plant a football field. 

Regardless of where you live, you will inevitably have at least one more chilly wet day this spring… and Penne alla Norcina is the perfect supper to make when you do. It’s beyond satisfying, with creamy penne and hearty sausage. But thanks to the peas, it also has a decidedly fresh and light feel. 

Speaking of peas… I always have a bag of Trader Joe’s petite green peas in my freezer to throw into anything I’m making that needs a little oomph of green veg. But my colleague Maegan finds them completely useless — and always pushes them aside on her plate like a toddler. 😂 Meanwhile, my colleague Piper always adds extra peas and her actual toddler gobbles them up! Where do you stand on team pea? 

Wishing you a happy and delicious first day of spring! 

Prepare a creamy Italian pasta loaded with sausage, peas, and Parmesan.

  • Active Kitchen Time: 30-40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 lb mild Italian sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Supper Smarts:

  • Flavor Town: Add mushrooms, zucchini, or extra peas – the sauce and sausage make these all great complements to this pasta dish.

  • Speed it Up: Use garlic paste or frozen garlic cubes to cut chopping time.

  • Mix it Up: If using milk or half & half instead of cream, reserve some pasta water to add at the end to thicken the sauce. Add a few tablespoons at a time, stirring to check sauce consistency.


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. (Tip: work on steps 4 and 5 while you wait!)
Add 1 lb penne pasta. Cook according to package directions until al dente.
Drain pasta in colander. Return to pot. Set aside.
Cut 1 onion in half, trim away ends, and peel. Slice layers into strips. Dice into squares. Add to small bowl.
Smash and peel 2 cloves garlic. Finely mince and add to onion.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
Add onion, garlic, 1 ½ tsp kosher salt, and ¼ tsp ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6-7 minutes.
Add 1 lb mild Italian sausage (casings removed). Break into small pieces with a spoon.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink, 5-7 minutes.
Add 2 cups heavy cream. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
Add 1 cup frozen peas. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Carefully pour cream sauce over pasta. Add ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Stir well. TASTE & SHARE!

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Cris WITKER March 20, 2024 @ 10:19 AM
We had this last night for dinner.

Very Good! Yummy!!