Most ziti pasta recipes are baked and require a long preparation time. This skillet ziti noodles recipe is ready in less that 30 minutes and is super easy to prepare.
Until this year, I had never tasted Swiss Chard. But I planted some on a whim in my vegetable garden this past summer and have discovered that I really love it.
It is a super easy-to-grow vegetable, too. Find out more about growing Swiss chard here.
The vegetable reminds me of spinach, which I adore, but with a more robust flavor and loads of bright color. And it is lovely in all sorts of recipes.
Lighter Ziti Pasta with Italian sausages
For this healthy Italian recipe, I combined my Swiss chard with ziti pasta, Italian chicken sausages and peppers for a wonderful main course dish.
If you like making meals with sausages and peppers as much as I do, try this one pot Italian sausage and peppers recipe. It’s also really easy to prepare.
The recipe calls for Swiss chard, Italian sausages (my husbands favorite), and colorful red peppers, as well as pasta. I used Ziti pasta because I like the shape and look of ziti and it holds any sauce well..
My Swiss chard is growing well in my garden and I normally just steam it with white wine and garlic, but wanted to use it in a different type of dish , so I came up with this skillet Ziti noodles dish.
It’s similar to a baked ziti recipe but it is much lighter and has lots more color than the traditional dish. And to have it ready i just 30 minutes is a real plus to any busy homemaker.
Swiss chard is also great in a breakfast skillet recipe. Check out this one for breakfast tomorrow!
This easy Italian Swiss chard ziti recipe is a delight and very hearty but not heavy like a baked ziti would be. My husband loves peppers and he is a big fan of this dish.
Making this skillet ziti recipe
Gather your ingredients. To make this Swiss chard sausage pasta skillet dish you’ll need the following ingredients:
- a bunch of colorful Swiss chard
- small red baby peppers – more color!
- an onion
- sweet Italian chicken sausages – lowering the calories but keeping the taste!
- extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- pure Maple Syrup – adds a lovely hint of sweetness
- Ziti pasta
- Parmesan Reggiano cheese to finish
The colors of these ingredients pop before I even get them on the serving plate. I am in love with this recipe already!
Directions for the stove top ziti pasta recipe
Swiss chard is often called “rainbow chard” and it’s easy to see why when you look at the leaves. They have beautifully colored stems and veins that really stand out.
The leaves also need special cutting before cooking because of this since the stems are much thicker and take longer to cook.
Start by cutting away the Swiss chard from the stems and then slice the stems into pieces. Heat the water for pasta and get it on to cook while you prepare the casserole.
Get your pan ready by heating olive oil over a medium high heat and then add the onions and peppers and gently cook for about 5 minutes.
Cut the sausages into bite sized pieces and add them to the pan, cooking till browned – about 6 minutes. The sausages I chose were precooked, so they didn’t need long at all!
Stir in the garlic, salt and maple syrup and stir to coat well. (I got some fresh local elephant garlic at the Farmer’s market and only needed one clove.
If you use normal garlic, you’ll probably want three cloves for the same flavor.)
I removed the sausage pieces now and kept them warm so that they don’t over cook and it also gave me room in the pan for the Swiss chard leaves before they cooks down..
Now comes the color from those wonderful rainbow chard stems!
Add the Swiss chard stems and a pinch of sea salt an cook another 5 minutes or so then add the leaf pieces and stir to cook another minute.
Return the Italian sausage back to the skillet and mix well. The colors and textures of this dish are just amazing and the maple syrup gies a wonderful aroma.
The final step is to add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss well to heat through.
Serve the skillet ziti noodles recipe in pasta bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese.
Side dishes for this 30 minute ziti pasta recipe
The dish is hearty enough to serve on its own, but if you would like to make more of a meal of it, try one of these side dishes:
We had this for recipe dinner tonight and it was so satisfying. Delicious with just a hint of sweetness that set off the sausages very nicely.
How did I lighten up this ziti Swiss chard sausage recipe?
I like to lighten up recipes to make them more healthy. As you know, most ziti recipes are baked, with lots of cheese and a heavy sauce and really calorie laden.
My recipe has is low in calories and has no heavy sauce. I lightened my dish up this way:
- The cheese is a garnish and not the star of the dish. This makes it much lighter and also makes it able to be made on the stove top without heating up your kitchen by having your oven on to bake the dish.
- The flavor comes from fresh vegetables instead of a heavy marinara sauce. That makes it much better for a summer meal, since fresh produce is in season and is really light in calories.
- I used a chicken sausage instead of traditional pork sausages. This saves almost 90 calories a serving but still delivers a great taste to the recipe.
- Real maple syrup adds a tremendous amount of flavor and is worth the extra calories it adds. It adds a lovely sweetness. You COULD use a lite maple syrup product, but you would lose a lot of flavor. And using the real deal only accounts for 50 calories in each serving. So worth it!
- Using fresh veggies and olive oil instead of butter keeps the saturated fat low without sacrificing any flavor.
The dish is low in saturated fat and sugar, very high in protein (32 grams per serving) and weighs in at 388 calories.
Pin this ziti pasta recipe
Would you like a reminder of this skillet ziti noodles recipe? Just pin this image to one of your cooking boards on Pinterest.
Admin note: This ziti with sausage recipe first appeared on the blog in January of 2013. I have updated the post to add all new photos, a printable recipe card, and a video for you to enjoy.
- 1 Bunch of Swiss Chard
- 5 small red baby peppers
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 1 pound of sweet Italian chicken sausages
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp of Mediterranean sea salt
- 8 oz of Ziti pasta
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese to garnish
- Cut the stems away from the Swiss chard leaves, and slice the stems in 1/4 inch pieces. Roll the leaves tightly and slice as in julienne pieces. Set aside.
- Put the pasta water on to boil and prepare the skillet pasta recipe while it is cooking.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, and peppers, and cook until the onion is translucent and the peppers tender. About 5 minutes
- Slice the sausages into 1 inch pieces and to the skillet, brown over medium heat. This will take about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the garlic, salt, and the maple syrup to the pan, and stir to coat.
- Remove the sausage and keep warm.
- In same skillet, add the chard stems, a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until beginning to brown, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the chard leaves, another pinch of salt and cook until leaves are just wilted, stirring, for up to 1 minute.
- When pasta is done, drain well. Return the sausage to the skillet with the vegetables and add the drained pasta, along with 1/2 cup of pasta water, tossing well until heated through.
- Serve in pasta bowls with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
I used Italian chicken sausages instead of the normal Italian pork sausages. This makes the calories much lighter but still gives a great flavor.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 388Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 1312mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 32g
Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.