When I started this blog, I posted a recipe for tomato sauce and promised to share some of the recipes I make using it. I haven't done so up to now (but, come on, it's only been a month!) so I thought it was time to rectify that situation. Today I'm going to share a recipe that is one of our family favourites and – surprise surprise – it's another pasta recipe! If you use previously made tomato sauce from the freezer (or a jar of ready-made tomato pasta sauce) to make this recipe, it can be on the table in around 20 minutes, which I think is pretty good going.
This is one of those recipes that can be spiced to suit everyone's tastes. The fennel seeds add an aromatic aniseed flavour that is not so pungent that my kids object to it and the chilli flakes are only added right at the end, making them completely optional – I just sprinkle them over the adults' portions. (Do be careful – last time I made this, I forgot to check whether the jar had shaker holes before I tipped it over my pasta. It didn't. Cue half a pot of chilli flakes over my pasta, half of which then had to be chucked in the bin. I like spicy food but even I could not handle that much heat!)
A word on ingredients - you MUST use good-quality sausages with a high meat content (80% or higher) for this recipe. I've tried it with cheaper sausages and, frankly, it's a waste of sausages – they don't brown in the same way as the premium ones and the result is seriously unappetizing. You have been warned!
The quantity given below would easily feed four adults, although in our house it feeds two adults and two kids for dinner with enough leftover for my husband's lunch the next day.
Spicy sausage pastaServes 4
400g good-quality pork sausages (80% or higher meat content)
½ tbsp fennel seeds
400g tomato sauce, defrosted if frozen
320g dried pasta shapes (I like to use penne or fusilli)
pinch of crushed chilli flakes (optional)
Separate the sausages and squeeze the meat from the casings. Set aside.
Put the fennel seeds in a mortar and grind with a pestle. They don't need to be ground too finely – just enough to break them down slightly and release their aroma. Set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over a high heat, then add the sausage meat and cook, breaking down with a wooden spoon as you would with mince, until the sausage is cooked through and browned slightly. Add the ground fennel seeds and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and back bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 8–10 minutes, or until tender but firm to the bite.
Drain the pasta well, then add to the contents of the frying pan and stir gently to combine with the sauce. Transfer to serving plates and sprinkle over crushed chilli flakes to taste (if using).