Summertime is the Best Time for Italian Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches


Growing up, my oldest brother was good at baseball, my middle brother was good at math, and I was good at Italian sausage.

I was eating it at two years old, making it in my parent’s basement at five, and serving it to hungry fans at baseball games at 10. (My dad was a coach and an attorney, so I wasn’t too worried about child labor laws.)

I grew up in Italian-centric Rhode Island, where “sausage” meant sweet or hot Italian sausage. It wasn’t until I moved to North Carolina as an adult that I realized for most people outside of RI, “sausage” meant Jimmy Deen.

Though we ate Italian sausage year-round, it never tasted better than during summertime. After little league baseball games when most kids went out for ice cream or pizza, we went home to the aroma of my mom’s glistening Italian sausage patties grilling on our back patio.

At Italian summer street festivals, if I had a choice between eating an Italian sausage calzone or riding the tilt-a-whirl one more time, I chose the sausage calzone.

While most fans went to Fenway Park in the hopes of seeing Jim Rice hit a home run, we went for the overstuffed sausage and peppers sandwiches, or as we called them, “soss-age n’ peppiz.”

A modest Italian street food, a sausage and pepper sandwich is a Neapolitan specialty that was introduced to America by Italian immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century. In many Italian-American families, it’s as ubiquitous as peanut butter and jelly but a whole lot more filling.

Sausage and pepper sandwiches are always found where people are having fun — at baseball concessions, fairs, and street festivals. They should also be at your backyard cookouts. So here’s my recipe for truly great Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches from my cookbook, The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.

Now, let’s mangia!


Sausage and Pepper Sandwich from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches

Makes 4 sandwiches

Shopping note: Hot Italian sausage is made with fennel seed and other spices and can be found at Italian delis and markets as well as most major supermarkets. If you’d prefer something less spicy, then opt for sweet Italian sausage.

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 Italian links (about 1 1/4 pounds total), preferably hot Italians sausage with fennel seeds

1 small green bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

Salt, to taste

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 to 4 tablespoons red wine or water

4 sub rolls or crusty Italian rolls, split lengthwise

1. Place oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage links and cook, turning until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Ad bell peppers, onion, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low and saute, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add wine or water and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes. The meat should be thoroughly cooked and the vegetables tender.

2. Brush rolls with olive oil and broil 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

3. Open 1 roll. Place 1 sausage link firmly inside. Smother with a quarter of the peppers and onions. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Eat immediately.

Alternative Grilling Method: Pre-heat grill to medium-high. Brown sausage links all over for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and close grill cover. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness until nicely browned and no longer pink in the center or until a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees.

Photo credit: Matt Armendariz

6 thoughts on “Summertime is the Best Time for Italian Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches

  1. Susan,
    I can totally relate to the whole sausage thing (being a fellow born and bred Rho Dylandah myself!). In my family it was sausage (sweet or hot), chourico or linguica. That’s it. Never heard of Jimmy Dean lol. Living in MD now married to a native Baltimore boy & I drive him crazy because I could have sausage-peppers-onions once a week for dinner and he’s not so keen on the whole concept except as a sandwich. I’m gluten free (sadly I’ll nevah evah have another pizza strip from D. Palmieri’s) so I like to do the combo as a dinner on a plate. Yum!!!

  2. Now see…that’s just fate, lol. I’m roasting a half-dozen pork shoulders for a wedding tomorrow in my roasting box, and I was just thinking about grilling up some sausages, peppers, and onion hoagies over the coals on top for dinner, and here’s your post…it’s confirmation, lol!

    I like the idea of the red wine…I think I’ll roast the peppers on the grill, but I’ll pan-cook the onions, pepper flakes, and wine, so I can use the sauce to brush on the sausages while grilling.

    Man, it’s 7am and now I’m craving sweet Italian sausages!

    Thanks for the great recipe!


    Perry P. Perkins
    “La Caja China Cooking”
    “La Caja China World”

  3. Darlene-D. Palmeiri’s. OMG. What a blast from the past! Fortunately I married an RI boy, so he shares my love for sossage ‘n peppiz. Maybe your husband will come around? Thanks for this comment — it made me happy and nostalgic at the same time.

  4. Perry-Wow! How did the roasting go? How was the wedding? I like the red wine too; it lends some body to the dish. And let’s just agree that it’s never too early for sweet Italian sausages!

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