Friday, August 19, 2011

Fresh tomato and sausage ragu: a recipe

Fresh tomato and sausage ragu over cavatappi
Can you believe I was nearly 30 years old before I discovered the awesome glory of sausage?

[Seriously -- if you a regular reader of the Ninj, pick yourself up off the floor, as you know I tend to add sausage or bacon to nearly everything. Are you new? Go ahead, search on "sausage" or "bacon" in that search box up there. I'll wait ... get it now?]

Growing up, sausage to me meant an oily, hot sausage-and-pepper grinder (hero, hoagie, sub, whatever) -- and those just grossed me out (still kinda do). Therefore, in my mind I didn't like sausage. Period.

While Mr. Ninj and I were dating, he would occasionally cook for me, and once he made some dish that involve browning sausage as the first step. This is so sad to admit now, but I watched in utter amazement as he CUT THE CASING OFF and added just the ground meat to the pan to brown. Whhhhaaaaattt???? Crumbled sausage? Sausage that isn't in a log shape or drowning in soggy pepper juice? Pure genius!

It's been all down the pork hill from there.

Last weekend I found myself with a small bunch of yellow, gold and purple cherry tomatoes from my garden and a package of hot italian sausage I picked up from Maple Wind Farm at my local farmers market, so I decided to make a ragu.

This seems like more of a fall or winter dish, but the fresh tomatoes and herbs make it ideal for summer. Since we eat a lot of cold, veggie-heavy dinners during the summer, it's nice on occasion to sample those comfort-food dishes of fall just a bit early.

I'm going to freeze a lot of these little tomatoes, while they are still plentiful, which will allow me to recreate this one even in the dead of winter.


Fresh Tomato and Sausage Ragu (a Ninja original)

1 lb pasta (I used cavatappi, but any ridged or curly shape will work well)
1 lb Italian sausages (sweet or hot, but I used hot), casings removed and coarsely crumbled
Olive oil
8 - 12 oz sliced mushrooms
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes in puree
2-3 cups diced fresh tomatoes (any kind)
salt and pepper
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat some olive oil in large pot; add onion and cook until just browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and mushrooms and cook until sausage is nearly done (about 8-10 minutes). Stir in chopped basil, oregano, and garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add wine; cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes; cover and simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes continue to simmer, stirring frequently, about another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add ragu to cooked pasta and stir in the cheese.


  1. Sounds good Jules! BTW, I am a cheese snob and hope that your parmesan cheese is freshly grated and not in that horrible green can....:)

  2. Don't worry -- no green cans here, Susan!

  3. Susan, I have a kid who loves the grrrrrrreen can. :-)

    But if I gave him the good stuff I'd be broke in a week, he eats tons of it. On everything. Half the time it's the only way he'll eat anything, if it's so covered in cheese that he can no longer taste the actual food.

  4. Achmed...I am the same pasta looks like snow on it. A wise person said, no matter how much you are pinching pennies, you must make sure you always have money for the real stuff! ;)

  5. Just so you know, Susan -- Achmed is sister J. :-) Achmed, maybe you should try putting real cheese in the green shaker can!!!

  6. I've never actually *tried* to give the kid the real stuff--he'll accept it at a restaurant, though, so I'm sure he'd eat it. Heck, he might use less of it, since he has such senstitive taste buds. I'll give it a try!

    Sorry about not outing myself, Susan--I forgot not everyone knows that I'm Achmed. :-)