Italian sausage links are a versatile meat that can be used in casseroles, grilled and eaten like bratwursts, or baked in a hearty tomato sauce. The best way to cook Italian sausage links, however, is to saute them in olive oil, which browns the sausage casings to crispy perfection. Sauteed Italian sausage is simple to prepare on busy weeknights. Just add a couple of healthy side dishes and your family dinner is complete.
Italian sausage links come in a wide variety of sizes and flavors. Choose thick, bratwurst-sized sausages if you are planning to serve them in a bun. Small links are perfect for snacking or serving to children; for small kids, cut them small enough so that they don't present a choking hazard. Choose a hot sausage for a zesty bite, a garlic Italian sausage for an burst of savory flavor or mild links that let the herb flavor shine through.
Use olive oil or garlic oil to saute the sausage. Turn the heat on high, and when the oil begins to shimmer, add the sausage links to brown. Reduce the heat to medium and saute the sausage until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit. When the sausages are finished cooking, place them on a plate to rest for 10 minutes before you serve them. This will prevent the hot juices from squirting out when the diners bite into them.
Italian sausage links go well with almost any side dish. The traditional way to serve them is with sauteed bell peppers and onions. Place the links in a bun and top them with the sauteed vegetables or simply serve them on the side. Or cut the links into 1- or 2-inch pieces and place the pieces on top of pasta and cover them with sauce. For a more healthy spin, pair the sausages with whole grain pasta, steamed vegetables or generous green salad with light ranch dressing.
To accentuate the herb flavor of the Italian sausage links, add oregano, parsley and basil to the cooking oil and lightly saute before you add the sausage. Red pepper flakes or chopped garlic are other flavoring options. If you prefer your sausage to be less crispy, add 1 cup of water after you brown the sausages and cover the pan. The sausages will steam as they cook, which will result in a softer casing.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images