Sweet n Spicy Tomato Sausage Ragù

Red sauce is my love language and if you’re coming over for dinner, I’m probably making you a version of this pasta. Sweet n Spicy Tomato Sausage Ragu is one of my back-pocket recipes. It’s tomato-y, savory, luscious, and hearty from caramelized Italian sausage. It’s just balanced out with sweet and fresh notes from fennel, basil, and chilies. It also comes together with *very* casual cooking techniques in about an hour, though it tastes like it’s been simmering all day. Since it leans so heavily on basic staples, you can think of this recipe as the year round cousin of my seasonal Summer Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes + Basil. Make it for a dinner party! Or make it on a weeknight. Or on a cozy Sunday. Put on some music, pick out a good red wine, and get in the kitch for a nice little vibe.

Sweet n Spicy Tomato Sausage Ragù

Sweet n Spicy Tomato Sausage Ragu comes together with casual cooking techniques in about an hour, though it tastes like it’s been simmering all day. It's tomato-y, savory, luscious, and hearty, with a subtle sweetness from fennel and basil. Serves 6.

Prep:
10
min
cook:
50
min
total:
60
min
Ingredients
  • 1 lb dried pasta, something short with nooks and crannies for cradling the sauce
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb fresh Italian sausage, half spicy and half mild. Use bulk ground or fresh links and remove from casing
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 large sprigs of basil, plus another large handful or so
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Flaky salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and more fresh basil for serving

Instructions

Crisp the sausage + cook the aromatics

  1. In a heavy bottomed dutch oven or large pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground sausage, break up with a wooden spoon, and cook until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up into small pieces. Once golden brown, remove sausage from pan and set aside - you'll add it back to the pan to cook down with the tomatoes later.
  2. Add few glugs of olive oil to pan if needed, add onions, and season generously with kosher salt. Stir to combine. 
  3. Saute the onions for several minutes until onions are *very* soft and luscious, stirring ococasionally to lift up the caramelized brown bits in the pan to develop color.
  4. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Add tomato paste and give everything a big stir to combine the mixture. Cook for 2 minutes or so, until the whole mixture starts to caramelize and turns a bricky red color. Season generously with salt.

Cook tomatoes down + finish the sauce

  1. Add can of tomatoes to pan. Add 1/4 cup water to can and swirl it around to release any stuck crushed tomatoes, and add to pan.
  2. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, and 4 sprigs fresh basil to pan. Season generously with kosher salt and stir. Keep on medium to low heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sausage back into the pan and cover with lid. Continue cooking on medium to low heat for another 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, being sure to break up any larger pieces of sausage, then putting the lid back on. 
  4. While the sauce is cooking down, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
  5. When the sausage has been cooking down with tomatoes for 25 minutes, remove lid, add a handful of basil sprigs, and simmer on low heat, uncovered, for another 7-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Cook the pasta + serve

  1. Cook the pasta just shy of al dente, it'll finish cooking in the sauce. 
  2. Once cooked, reserve a cup of the starchy pasta cooking water and set aside - you’ll use some of it to loosen up the sauce. 
  3. Transfer cooked pasta to sauce over low heat and fold to combine. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water, butter, and continue folding to incorporate. Taste and adjust for seasoning. If it needs extra oomph, add a few pinches of kosher salt. If it needs more richness, throw in another knob of butter. If it needs more sauciness, add a splash of pasta water.
  4. Divide into bowls and top with lots of fresh basil, flaky salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. It's pretty rich as is, so I don't think grated parmesan is totally necessary, but feel free to add it, it'll be delicious either way.
Let's riff

Comment

Did you love this? Let me know!

Name
Email
Message
Thanks for contributing to our community! Your comment will appear shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Curtis Ingham
June 11, 2024
Amparo Helton
June 9, 2024
Rhys Pigott
June 5, 2024
Humberto Caesar
June 4, 2024
Gita Leschen
May 31, 2024
Diane Aslatt
May 31, 2024
Annetta Merchant
May 20, 2024
Brendan Bear
May 9, 2024
Nora Perry
May 8, 2024
Mark Moore
May 6, 2024
Charley McWilliam
May 5, 2024
Latesha
April 30, 2024
April 30, 2024
Maggie Covington
April 27, 2024
Gene Penny
April 21, 2024
Hilario Druitt
April 17, 2024
Tilly Killough
April 16, 2024
Jeannine Turner
April 13, 2024
Alvin Goold
April 7, 2024
Dean Baader
April 6, 2024
Frank Hardie
April 5, 2024
Elvira
April 4, 2024
Aleisha Lee
March 31, 2024
Noreen Stretch
March 28, 2024
Sherman Cruz
March 25, 2024
Ludie Key
March 23, 2024
Gini
March 20, 2024
Loved the soup. Croutons too much trouble. Fast in a cup!
Ray Beall
March 16, 2024
Richard
February 22, 2024
send me fruits to add with another fruit to cure disease
Deneen Medland
April 17, 2023
Kelle Trouton
April 17, 2023
Caroline
January 23, 2023
I made this same amazing salad with the following additions: I used a bed of chopped romaine hearts, and squeezed the juice of all the trimmed cara cara oranges, plus 1/2 lemon, added a drizzled of Tupelo honey on top. The herbs: chopped fennel fronds and mint. Everyone went crazy for it!
Marcus
YUM! Definitely going to pair this with a nice and funky natty white next time!
Caroline
January 23, 2023
I made this same amazing salad with the following additions: I used a bed of chopped romaine hearts, and squeezed the juice of all the trimmed cara cara oranges, plus 1/2 lemon, added a drizzled of Tupelo honey on top. The herbs: chopped fennel fronds and mint. Everyone went crazy for it!