I know this sounds like an obscenely rich combination but funnily enough it doesn’t strike you that way when you eat it. The cream does add a lovely luxurious richness to the the dish but some of that heaviness is alleviated by the acidity of the tomatoes. In any case it’s just plain delicious and a real crowd pleaser. Kids love this pasta sauce especially if you use sausages that are a little on the mild side – when I make it for the family I use organic beef sausages but for a more adult flavour I like to use Italian pork and fennel sausages. The best pasta shape for this sauce is a short pasta like penne, rigatoni, or as pictured, fusilli. For a fantastic Italian feast all you need to accompany the pasta is a green salad, some garlic bread, a bottle of chianti (dripping wax candle optional) and Dean Martin crooning in the background.
Ingredients – serves 4 – 6 Adapted from Joanne Weir’s “You Say Tomato” Cook book
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
750g Italian style sausages – you can substitute with any good quality sausage, beef or pork
1 large red onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Pinch of red chilli flakes
1 cup red wine
2 x 400g tins diced Italian tomatoes
1 cup cream
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
500g dried penne, riagatoni or fusilli
Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Take the sausages out of the casing and crumble them into the pan. You don’t want the pieces too big or too small – about 1cm chucks is best. Cook the sausages until the fat has rendered and the juices have evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, sage, rosemary, chilli flakes and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Turn the heat up to high and add the red wine and boil until it has almost all evaporated. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered until the sauce thickens, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and discard.
Add the cream and half the parmesan to the sauce and stir together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In the meantime bring a large pot of well salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, put it back in the pot and toss with the sauce, reserving about a quarter of it. Place on a platter or serve on individual plates topping with the reserved sauce and the remaining parmesan, serve immediately.