Ziti Al Fresco with Italian Sausage, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Cream

Ziti Al Fresco with Italian Sausage, Sundried Tomatoes and Cream
Ziti Al Fresco is simply made with Italian sausage, sun dried tomatoes and cream. No need to bake this ziti! Ready in about 15 minutes, this will soon become a family request!

Ziti Al Fresco with Italian Sausage, Sun dried Tomatoes and Cream

Zoe’s return meant Ziti Al Fresco. Beautiful, spicy, rich, warm and full of basil.  The adjectives certainly suit Zoe except for the basil part! Yes, my daughter is home. There is no better feeling. At least until my son gets home. That is the best feeling because it means we will all be together for a short while, until one of them leaves me again. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that. When Zoe is home it means pasta. Lots and lots of pasta. I have no clue how she stays a size two. I didn’t inherit that gene.

A long time ago, which in my world is pre kid, there was a restaurant in Denver named Al Fresco. Located downtown; it was a fun and happenin’ place. Until one day it closed. I don’t know why, but it is there no more. It served spectacular Italian food with little garlic rolls that I inhaled and devoured, before I could even look at the menu. The menu included Shrimp Gamberoni that were also delish and it  this Ziti Al Fresco. Between Manservant and myself it was required that one of us always had to order the ziti. My, oh my, I have never forgotten the ziti or the garlic rolls.

Al Fresco’s closing led me to create my own Ziti Al Fresco. I haven’t made it in a very long time and when you look at the ingredients you will see why. Yes, it has horrible, luscious heavy cream as one of its prime components. My, oh my. But I knew my Zoe could take it. With Ziti Al Fresco there is no need to make baked ziti. Loaded with Italian sausage this easy no bake ziti will quickly become a family favorite. Manservant was in heaven as he ate. I don’t know if he was smiling because Zoe was home, or because of the ziti. Either way, both are worth smiling about!

Ziti Al Fresco with Italian Sausage, Sun dried Tomatoes and Cream


This was one of the first posts I published way back in 2011. It truly needed updating and since I made this for New Year’s Eve I thought it time to take new photographs. It still is just as delicious and still puts a smile on Manservant’s face. He has been known to eat this with just a spoon and skips the pasta!

Ziti or Penne? 

And a word about the pasta. What is pictured is actually penne. Ziti is a medium tube shaped pasta and penne is a heavier cylinder shaped like the end of a fountain pen, which is actually how it got the name penne, since this shape came about in the 1900’s.  Both are suitable and since I couldn’t find ziti, I used penne.

Ziti Al Fresco with Italian Sausage, Sun dried Tomatoes and Cream

Need some garlic bread to go with? That Skinny Chick Can Bake has a fabulous cheesy garlic bread.Italian Salad? This Creamy Italian Salad Dressing is divine. I know, ’cause I’ve made it!

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Ziti Al Fresco with Italian Sausage, Sun dried Tomatoes and Cream

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Ziti Al Fresco with Italian Sausage, Sundried Tomatoes and Cream

Ziti Al Fresco

  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 Minutes
  • Total Time: 15 Minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Main course
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian


Ziti Al Fresco is simply made with Italian sausage, sun dried tomatoes and cream. No need to bake this ziti! Ready in about 15 minutes, this will quickly become a family favorite.



1 lb penne or ziti, cooked al dente in salted water

2 T olive oil

1 lb hot or sweet, very good bulk Italian sausage (If you need to you can always add some red pepper flakes to the sauce.)

1/2 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

3 T red wine for deglazing

½ small can tomato paste

1 c heavy cream

1/3 c sun dried tomatoes sliced (in oil, and blotted dry)

1 pkg fresh basil, chopped

Salt and fresh pepper to taste

Fresh grated Parmigiano for serving


Heat oil over medium high heat until hot. Add sausage and onions. Cook and break up sausage until almost no pink is showing. Add garlic and cook until sausage is cooked.

Use wine to deglaze pan then turn heat to medium low. Stir in tomato paste, then add heavy cream. Bring to a low simmer and  whisk gently until tomato paste is blended in. The sauce will be thick. I usually stir in some pasta water to loosen up the sauce. You could also add more cream. Your choice!

Stir in sun dried tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. When almost done, stir in the chopped basil.

Combine sauce with drained ziti.  Sprinkle with parmigiano.

Now finish that bottle of wine you used to deglaze with and you will understand why you deglaze a pan with wine and why the chefs always say to never use a wine to cook with, that you wouldn’t drink on its own!


Sauce can be kept warm on low heat.

Feel free to add some red pepper flakes if you want this spicier.

Sun Dried Tomatoes or Oven Dried Tomatoes? I prefer the sun dried. I think they have a richer taste. They usually cost more but IMO they are worth it.

Reserve some pasta water to loosen up the sauce.

Keywords: pasta, ziti, penne, ziti al fresco, baked penne, ziti recipe, baked ziti with Italian sausage, easy baked ziti, Italian pasta

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  • Susan
    January 18, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    This really caught my eye on Instagram. Now I’m pinning it 😉

  • Juliana
    January 14, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    I love the idea of rich and creamy pasta sauce…and this has it all…sausage, spice…yum! Thanks for the recipe Abbe…have a wonderful week!

  • lisaiscooking
    January 14, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    I could have rich pasta dishes for every meal during the winter! This sounds like a perfect comfort food meal.

  • Healthy World Cuisine
    January 13, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    Delicious and easy for weeknight dinners but fancy enough for guests. Love that!

  • mimi rippee
    January 13, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Beautiful pasta dish. I don’t think I was a size 2 when I was born!!! Lucky gal! Do you know that my husband dislikes sun-dried tomatoes? Isn’t that the oddest thing?!!

  • Balvinder
    January 12, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    I am always looking for easy and delicious dinner ideas for busy days! This looks so good! I need to add this to our menu for next week but substituting vegetarian protein for sausage.

  • John / Kitchen Riffs
    January 12, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Fun recipe! Glad you brought this back — I had forgotten about it, and this is a dish I NEED to make. Thanks!

  • Liz
    January 12, 2019 at 10:54 am

    I think Al Fresco is where Maddy had her rehearsal dinner! I’ll have to ask! Either way, we’d LOVE this pasta! Can’t wait to give it a try.

  • Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)
    January 12, 2019 at 4:55 am

    Abbe, I love every single thing about this recipe.

  • angiesrecipes
    January 11, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    I adore al fresco sauce! This looks so good, Abbe.

  • Holly
    January 11, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    I’ve hardly had pasta since the change to gluten free so it has been way too long. A few brands make great GF pasta so I’ll have to give it a try now that your ziti is fresh on my mind.

  • Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens
    March 30, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Oh, Abbe! This is gorgeous! I love, love, love pasta with any kind of "pink" tomato cream sauce! Delicious! 😀

  • Abbe
    December 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Thank you. Every time I look at this I want to make it again!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    December 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Love hot Italian sausage and pasta of any kind. Great recipe. Always nice to associate certain dishes with people or events. Thanks for this.