sausage standby – part 2


this is another quick and easy dish to make that relies on the store cupboard staples of pasta and passata plus some decent italian sausages.

when i’m cooking i regularly think how i increase the amount of vegetables that we eat. something like this pasta dish with a sausage ragu is easily boosted by adding fresh spinach at the end. a salad on the side also helps and gets us up to at least 3 portions of vegetables each.

the other great thing about this sort of tomatoey dish is that the amount of lycopene that is available to the body compared to raw tomatoes is much increased. which is a good thing as lycopene helps reduce risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems.

lycopene also has an anti-ageing impact which, to be honest, is what i’m more concerned with for myself! although the smile-crinkles around my eyes that comforting food such as this produces aren’t necessarily such a good thing!

this dish is my contribution to presto pasta nights, as hosted by ruth at once upon a feast.

sausage ragu with spinach and tortiglione (serves 2)

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 large spicy italian sausages, casing removed, and chopped roughly

½ red chilli flakes

1 clove garlic, crushed

100ml red wine

200ml passata

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves only

1 teaspoon sugar

200g baby leaf spinach

black pepper

to serve: cooked tortiglione for two plus parmesan

fry the sausage pieces, chilli flakes 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 thyme and 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, and add the spinach. cover the pan with a lid and leave on a medium heat until the spinach wilts – you may need to add the spinach in batches and stir regularly. season with black pepper.

mix with the penne and serve with lots of parmesan and a green salad.