Sausage and Pepper Meatballs

Things I used to hate but now actually like: onions, celery, cinnamon, bell peppers.

Things I used to hate but now… well, I still don’t like eating them: olives, fruit on meat, mussels.

Things I used to hate but now actually love: mangoes, anchovies, pickles.

My taste in food have developed and changed over the years, and I’m glad that I can now appreciate things that I used to avoid or toss aside or fastidiously pick from my plate. Like bell peppers.

I really, really like hot peppers (habaneros, jalapenos, even ghost peppers), but I used to loathe bell peppers. And yet somehow, my aversion to bell peppers have diminished during the last few years. I started eating it on pizzas, with salads, in dips. I realized I actually like them roasted, too.  So I was excited when I received my “assignment” for The Bitten Word’s Super Awesome Cover to Cover Challenge, where Zach and Clay and hundreds of participants are cooking every recipe in six issues of their favorite October food magazines. I ended up in Team Everyday Food, and my dish was Sausage and Pepper Meatballs.

It’s a riff on the flavors of a sausage and peppers sub, a hoagie, so one of the main ingredients is red bell peppers.

I admit that if this happened a few years ago, that I might have asked to swap my dish. But now, I welcomed the opportunity to cook with bell peppers. Besides, it’s a Martha Stewart recipe. And while I may not always succeed in recreating her dishes, I’ve had plenty of delicious meals inspired by her recipes. And these are meatballs – one of my favorite things, ever.

I decided to use actual Italian sausage, which I combined with ground pork (instead of just ground pork and fennel seeds that the recipe originally called for) and I served it with a multi-grain fettuccini from one of my favored farmer’s market vendors.

You probably won’t be surprised when I say that the meatballs turned out delicious. The bell peppers and onions (another thing I used to hate, see above) lend a sweet layer of flavor, and the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes balance it out with some spice.

Sausage and Pepper Meatballs


3/4 lb fettuccini
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1large bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings
shaved Parmesan, for serving


Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large heavy pot (I used my dutch oven), heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring, until translucent for about 5 minutes. Remove 1/3 cup of the onions and transfer to a cutting board. Add bell pepper to remaining onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until bell pepper is softened, about 8 minutes, Add 1/4 cup water to the pot, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add crushed tomatoes and red pepper flakes and bring to a gentle simmer.

Make meatballs. In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, milk, and salt. Roughly chop reserved onion and add to bowl, along with pork and Italian sausage. Stir until just combined. Form 2-inch balls and drop gently into sauce, trying to submerge all meatballs. Cover and simmer until cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Serve on top with pasta and sprinkle with shaved Parmesan.

original recipe from Everyday Food

Has your taste changed over the years, too? What’s one thing you used to hate but now actually like?


29 Responses to “Sausage and Pepper Meatballs”

  1. #
    Meghan posted October 24, 2012 at 8:36 am

    These look delicious! I used to hate tomatoes when I was little, but now I can not get enough of them!

  2. #
    Alaina posted October 24, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I used to hate garlic, asparagus, and shell fish. I’m definitely starting to tolerate more foods. I love trying out new dishes and not being afraid of what’s in it.

    This dish look so good! :-)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      I wasn’t a big fan of shellfish (or seafood in general) when I was younger, too. I’m very glad that changed :)

  3. #
    Kathryn posted October 24, 2012 at 10:21 am

    This sounds incredibly delicious and full of such great flavours. I used to be a super-picky eater although I’m getting better now. I still struggle with fruit on meat though!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      I have tried multiple times to like that, I just really don’t! :)

  4. #
    Colleen @ Culinary Colleen posted October 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I’m still not a fan of green bell peppers, but I love red bell peppers (especially with sausage). I like spicy green peppers like jalapenos, though…very weird!

  5. #
    Michelle Collins posted October 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I used to despise all kinds of mushrooms, but now I buy mushrooms almost every week. I can’t get enough of them!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      I feel like a lot of people do a 180 regarding mushrooms!

  6. #
    Ashley - Baker by Nature posted October 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Oh Yum. I want this for dinner!

  7. #
    Heather posted October 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I used to hate tomatoes, but I’ll eat them now. I’m still not a fan of bell peppers (the taste is too dominating for me, I feel like it drowns out other flavors in a dish), but I’ll eat them in some things – very rarely though, LOL.

  8. #
    Simply Life posted October 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I love hearing this! I’m actually still intimidated to try anchovies but I think it’s about time!

  9. #
    Reeni posted October 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I never heard of anyone not liking cinnamon! I’m glad you like it now! Your meatballs sound and look delicious! I like bell peppers a whole lot better than I used to. I don’t like mussels either or clams.

  10. #
    CCU posted October 25, 2012 at 3:50 am

    Your meatballs look stunning my friend, bookmarked :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  11. #
    Joanne posted October 25, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I’m so glad you came around to peppers! I love them. And I also love how you turned this classic combo into meatballs!

  12. #
    Shannon posted October 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

    that certainly looks awesome :) i have definitely come around… beets and brussels sprouts are the ones i was most vehement about as a kid. love them both now!

  13. #
    Juliana posted October 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    This looks delicious, perfect for a weekday dinner :) Thanks for the recipe and hope you are having a great week Bianca!

  14. #
    Megan posted October 25, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    I never thought I liked anchovies but I do. And over the past few years I’ve been getting really into olives… never used to like them. I would love this. Jeff and I make sausage and peppers whenever we can’t decide what to have for dinner and need a quick dish.

  15. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted October 26, 2012 at 8:34 am

    So neat you participated in this challenge – i’ve been following along! This is definitely a classed-up version of a sandwich that I love!

  16. #
    Scrambled Megs posted October 29, 2012 at 1:30 am

    YUMMY! I love how hearty this meal is. I want to eat it with potato mash!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Meatballs with mashed potatoes is an awesome idea!

  17. #
    OliePants posted October 29, 2012 at 1:38 am

    I was doing just fine until I saw the first picture. Geez – I love hearty pastas with tons of red sauce and a delicious meatball. I’m drooling over this.

  18. #
    Sacha posted October 29, 2012 at 9:12 am

    This looks like a winner! What a fun challenge you are participating in. (I love The Bitten Word.) I have to say, I’m surprised to see cinnamon on that list of things you used to dislike. Glad it’s now at least in the “like” category :). I never liked eating oranges out of hand as a kid…and I still don’t!

  19. #
    Adri {Food-N-Thought} posted October 29, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I still hate anchovies, is one of the very few things I won’t eat. How can you not like mussels? Nothing like some Moules-frites with white wine on a good French Bistro :) but with your changing palate, looks like there is still hope ;)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      Heehee I may have enjoyed a mussel that was baked with garlicky cheese and breadcrumbs once…

  20. #
    Honey What's Cooking posted October 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    although i don’t even eat sausage, this looks soooooooooo good. love meatballs and pasta when i used to eat all animals back in the day. :)

  21. #
    Patty posted October 30, 2012 at 3:58 am

    I still hate bell peppers, haha. But, this post contained your link to your Polpette, and that, I love. Please make that too in December!! I think you’ll be cooking the whole time you’re back home ;) Cannot wait!

  22. #
    Daisy posted October 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    hmmmm I definitely used to dislike olives and now I love them. and I didn’t eat lobster or shrimp despite growing up on cape cod and trying them fresh every year. finally one day it clicked!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      Ohh I definitely used to hate seafood/shellfish too! So glad we came around :)

  23. #
    grace posted November 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    gasp–you actually hated cinnamon?!?! i’m so troubled by that! :)

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