it’s a chilly, wet and grey day in london. and despite the fact that it’s the middle of august, today i’m shunning salads and light flavours in favour of something more comforting.
i’m lucky to have a great little italian deli just ten minutes walk down the road from where i live. and working in central london means that soho’s italian delis are never far away either. with them comes a ready supply of delicious fresh, homemade italian sausages. i love them with puy lentils but today i want pasta.
this is a great standby recipe - it tastes delicious (really rich and indulgent), the sausages take hardly any time to defrost if you don’t have a handy deli that you can visit, and all the other ingredients are usually easy enough to find.
sausage and fennel ragu with penne (serves 2)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 large spicy italian sausages, casing removed, and chopped roughly
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed
100ml red wine
1 teaspoon sugar
3 large sprigs of basil plus a handful of chopped basil
to serve: cooked penne for two plus parmesan
fry the sausage pieces, fennel seeds and garlic in the olive oil, until the sausage meat starts to cook – use a spoon to encourage the meat to break up into smallish pieces. add the red wine and stir, allowing the mixture to bubble away until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
add the passata, the basil sprigs (leave whole so you can easily take them out later) plus the sugar (this brings out the tomato flavour and removes the need to use tomato puree). allow it to bubble away until the ragu thickens.
at this stage i taste the sauce and decide if i want to add more tomatoes (just add another glug of passata and taste when the sauce has the texture you want) or if it is ready.
when the ragu is done to your satisfaction, remove the basil sprigs, add the fresh chopped basil and season with black pepper.
mix with the penne and serve with lots of parmesan and a green salad.