You can never have enough quick-cooking pasta dishes in your repertoire. With pasta there are so many shape and sauce combinations that it's impossible to get bored.
The inspiration for your next Italian dinner sensation can come from all sorts of places, like the condiment shelf of your refrigerator door. This recipe uses whole grain mustard to create a creamy and tangy pasta sauce tossed with asparagus, Italian sausage, and strozzapreti, a fun twisted pasta shape.
While the dish does have a hint of spice from the sausage and mustard, it's balanced by the cream and parmesan cheese. It only uses a handful of ingredients (some you might already have at home) and comes together in under 30 minutes to create a weeknight meal that's easy to make but has an elegant feel.
Whole Grain Mustard is Key
Whole grain mustard is made with yellow and brown mustard seeds that are left whole, giving the condiment a speckled look. It is relatively mild compared to ground mustards.
Dijon mustard is made with ground brown mustard seeds, and it is brownish yellow. Because Dijon mustard seeds are ground more finely, it has a noticeably stronger flavor and a smoother consistency.
You can use Dijon mustard instead of whole grain mustard; however, reduce the amount to account for the more intense flavor. Do not use yellow mustard. It would not work in this recipe.
Pasta Shapes and Cooking Times
For this pasta, I used strozzapreti, a longer version of cavatelli that is hand-rolled into tight coils that resemble a rope. When properly cooked, it has a chewy texture and it’s a shape that really holds on to creamy pasta sauce well.
Cook the pasta until al dente—just a minute less than what the cooking instructions on the package suggest. As with most Italian pasta dishes, the cooked strozzapreti is added to the skillet with the sauce to cook for an extra 30 seconds or so to coat it with the sauce and absorb its flavors. Al dente pasta finishes cooking in the sauce without becoming overcooked or mushy.
Swaps and Substitutions
Part of making a meal that’s perfect for you is knowing when, where, and how to adjust the recipe. Here are some suggestions for substitutions:
- Strozzapreti is traditionally hand-rolled so it might be hard to find in stores. Feel free to use a tubular pasta such as penne, ziti, or even fusilli.
- Spicy Italian sausage adds a kick. For reduced heat, you can use sweet Italian sausage. This recipe would also work well with a ground turkey or chicken, or use sliced baby portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian version. Season the substitutions with dry Italian seasoning to mimic the flavors you would otherwise get from the sausage.
- Asparagus adds texture to this dish, but leafy greens like Swiss chard, Tuscan kale, or even spinach are perfect substitutes. Feel free to throw in sweet peas or more mushrooms to up the veggie content.
- This mustard cream sauce is surprisingly versatile. If you have leftovers, try serving it over gnocchi, grilled pork, roasted chicken, grilled asparagus, or roasted cauliflower.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
This pasta dish keeps well for five to six days in an airtight container in the fridge. It's great for meal prep or make-ahead lunches, or even double the recipe and freeze it for a rainy day.
Reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave. Just add a splash of water to loosen the sauce while it reheats.
More Amazing Recipes with Mustard
- Honey Mustard Baked Salmon
- Roasted Broccolini with Creamy Mustard Sauce
- Chicken Breasts with Mustard Cream Sauce
- Panko Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Cream Sauce
- Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus with Lemon-Mustard Dressing
Sausage, Asparagus, and Mustard Strozzapreti
- Sea salt for pasta water and for seasoning to taste
- 1 pound pencil thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound dry strozzapreti pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausage links, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
- Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
Cook the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. I suggest 1 teaspoon of salt for every quart of water. Add the strozzapreti and cook until al dente following package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Set it aside.
Meanwhile, sauté the vegetables and sausage:
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the onions and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until translucent. Add the mushrooms and sausage and cook until the mushrooms have softened, and the sausages are brown on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the asparagus:
Add the asparagus to the pan, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until tender. Transfer the sausage and vegetable mix into a medium bowl and set it aside.
Make the sauce:
In the same sauté pan set over medium-low heat, add the heavy cream, chicken stock, butter, mustard, thyme, oregano, basil, nutmeg, lemon zest, and most of the Parmesan cheese (reserve about 1 tablespoon to sprinkle on top when serving).
Cook the sauce until the butter melts and it comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low. Continue simmering the sauce, stirring to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning, until it thickens slightly, enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
Finish cooking the pasta:
Add the strozzapreti, sausage, and vegetables into the sauce. Toss everything together until the pasta is fully coated with the sauce. If the sauce is too dry, add pasta water as needed to reach a creamier texture.
Season to taste and serve:
Taste and adjust seasoning with salt. Depending on how salty the sausage is, you may not need additional salt. To serve, sprinkle the pasta with black pepper and the reserved Parmesan.