Best Super Easy Penne…with a lot of garlic. A tried and true family favorite, make this on nights when you’re craving Italian, but also need something easy. Slow simmered red sauce with a lot of garlic, Italian herbs, rich olive oil, and spicy chicken sausage. Simmer this sauce low and slow, then toss in fresh penne pasta and top with plenty of cheese. This is a hearty, cozy pasta that comes together in minutes and is ideal for feeding plenty of family and friends. It’s delicious, looks pretty on any table, and everyone enjoys a GOOD penne pasta. Just add crusty bread…and maybe some wine and you’ll be good to go!
Happy December twenty-sixth. Crazy that Christmas has come and gone and we’re now gearing up for the New Year. Hoping you all had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed time with family. Ours was just as chaotic and crazy as it is every year but perfect at the same time. Wouldn’t change a thing.
We had a snowy two days filled with plenty of cooking, good food, drinks, and many laughs. Nothing fancy, but all the things I love. In addition to the usual family members, we also had a very sweet little addition that made this Christmas incredibly special and blessed. More details to come, but it’s safe to say that my family had a very memorable Christmas!
I’m so excited to have the next few days to spend with everyone, and chill and catch up. But the thing about having family in town? It requires a lot of food. Like a lot. This is the time of year when I turn to my super easy, super simple, recipes. The ones I know will feed a crowd and that will be loved by all. Enter this penne pasta. It’s a recipe I adapted from a close family friend. Over the years I’ve tweaked it to make it more of my own, with just the slightest adjustments.
The best part? It is SO incredibly EASY! You can make it on the stove, in the Instant Pot, or in the slow cooker. Do what works for you.
Here is how you make this Best Super Easy Penne…with a lot of garlic.
The key to this sauce? A lot of olive oil and a lot of garlic. If you hate garlic, I’m sorry to say that this recipe is probably not for you. But if you love garlic? This recipe is 100% for you.
When cooking on the stove or in the instant pot, start the sauce by slowly simmering the garlic, herbs, and olive oil together until the garlic is golden and caramelized. This is really important for the best flavor, so take your time when cooking the garlic and go low and slow with it. If you burn it, your sauce will not be nearly as good.
Note: when cooking the sauce in the slow cooker, just add everything to the slow cooker all at once, cover, and again, cook low and slow for several hours. Because you’re cooking the sauce for a long period of time, you can skip cooking the garlic in oil.
Once the garlic has turned golden, add a couple of jars of your favorite marinara sauce (I love Rao’s Marinara) and spicy Italian chicken sausage. The spicy sausage adds an incredibly rich flavor to the sauce and pleases the meat-eaters in the family.
Then just slowly simmer the sauce over low heat, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. The longer the sauce simmers, the better the flavor. My tip? Make the sauce the night before you plan to serve, simmer a couple of hours, then chill overnight. The following day, place the sauce on the stove, simmer, then serve. This will give you truly the BEST penne sauce.
When ready to eat, simply cook up some penne pasta, spoon the sauce over the penne, and top with plenty of grated parmesan and fresh oregano. Toss it up, eat, and enjoy!
Simple and easy as that.
Want to make this vegetarian?
I often make this vegetarian by omitting the sausage from the recipe. When doing so, I always like to add additional crushed red pepper flakes for heat, herbs, and spices to make up for the lost flavor. I’ve listed out all the measurements in the notes section.
If you’d like to add protein, I would recommend crispy chickpeas. That will be so delicious!
Your sauce is oily you say?
GOOD it should be. This sauce is all about the oil and it’s whats makes this the best penne. Once the sauce and penne are combined everything comes together beautifully. And most importantly?
It tastes delicious! So an oily sauce is a good sauce. Please trust me.
I’ve already made this once this past week for the family. But I’m planning to make another batch for New Year Eve. I like to have this simmering away on the stove for people to enjoy throughout the day. Cold temperatures and outdoor activities mean that people are almost always looking for food. This is the perfect recipe to have warmed and ready to go. You really can’t beat it.
If you make this Best Super Easy Penne…with A Lot of Garlic, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Best Super Easy Penne...with A Lot of Garlic
Calories Per Serving: 399 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 25 to 30 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano plus fresh oregano, for serving
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 (24 ounce) jars marinara sauce
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 3/4 pound spicy ground Italian sausage or chicken sausage
- 1 pound dry penne pasta
- grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- 1. In a large pot, combine the olive oil, garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden and caramelized, 8-10 minutes. Add the marinara sauce and season with salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. It will seem as if the ingredients aren’t coming together, but don’t worry.2. Roll the sausage into tiny grape-size meatballs and place them in the sauce. Stir to combine. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and cook for at least 1 hour or up to all day, stirring every hour or so.3. When ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne according to package directions until al dente. Drain and divide the hot pasta among plates, topping each with sauce, parmesan, and oregano. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the extra sauce. Enjoy!
- In the instant pot, combine the olive oil, garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley, and red pepper flakes. Set the instant pot to sauté and cook until the garlic is golden and caramelized, 5 minutes. Stir in the marinara sauce and season with salt and black pepper. It will seem as if the ingredients aren’t coming together, but don’t worry. 2. Roll the sausage into tiny grape-sized meatballs and place them in the sauce. Stir to combine.. Cover and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. 3. Finish as directed above.
- 1. In the slow cooker, combine the olive oil, garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley, red pepper flakes, marinara sauce and season with salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. It will seem as if the ingredients aren’t coming together, but don’t worry. 2. Roll the sausage into tiny grape-size meatballs and place them in the sauce. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 3. Finish as directed above.
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If Your Sauce Is Oily: It's probably just right! This sauce is all about the oil and it's meant to be oily. Once the sauce is tossed with the pasta, everything comes together perfectly. If you feel like the sausage has released more oil than you'd like, you can scoop away excess oil using a large spoon or 1/4 cup measure. To Make Vegetarian: omit the sausage and instead add, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.