Sausage Ragu

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Why not kick-start 2014 with this rich and flavoursome dish, accompanied by hand torn pasta?!

So has my New Years resolution been to revert back to the meat-eating ways of my childhood? No. Did I decide to follow a meat-based recipe whilst taking advantage of available vegetarian alternatives? Yes!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Italian-inspired food. Given its versatility, I’d go as far as saying that pasta may well be one of my favourite foods, particularly when cooked with ingredients such as garlic, basil, tomatoes and olive oil. Unsure of what to cook for dinner the other night, I picked up my Easy Pasta cookbook (buy here) and automatically turned to the vegetarian section. With none of the recipes taking my fancy on this particular day, I began lazily flicking through all the meat recipes in the book. It suddenly dawned on me that I’d been far too dismissive of these meat dishes; after all, we’re at a point in time where tasty meat substitutes are ten-a-penny in most DECENT supermarkets. After choosing the sausage ragu, I headed off to buy the ingredients.

INGREDIENTS (makes 4-5 portions)
•750g fresh vegetarian sausage
•A few pinches of chilli flakes
•2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•1 onion, finely chopped
•2 crushed garlic cloves
•2 tbsp chopped sage
•2 cans of chopped tomatoes
•125ml red wine
•2 tbsp tomato purée
•2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
•Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

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METHOD
1) Roughly chop the sausages and blend them in a food processor, along with the chilli flakes, until they look something like this:

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2) Heat the oil in a large pan and gently sauté the onion, garlic, sage and seasoning over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the sausage meat and stir-fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
3) Add the tomatoes, wine and tomato purée, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste and stir in the parsley.

FOR THE PASTA
I took inspiration from another recipe in this book and decided to use hand-torn pasta. Simply take 500g fresh lasagne sheet and roughly tear them into thick strips. Gently boil and serve al dente with the ragu. Alternatively, part boil dried lasagne sheet and cut into the thick strips. Boil again when ready to serve.

I actually found the vegetarian sausage to be a more preferable alternative to vegetarian mince which tends to dry up the sauce and loses flavour. Next on my list from this cookbook? ‘Ham’, rocket and bubbling blue cheese with pappardelle pasta. Watch this space!

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