A take off on my mom's meat sauce for pasta, this one never fails to satisfy that craving for a comforting pasta dish. It's simple to put together, and only needs to simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes to develop the deep, rich flavor.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian Sausage (mild/sweet, or hot) I buy in in bulk from my butcher, but you can buy in casings and simply remove from casings then proceed with recipe.
1 medium to large onion, diced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dry fennel seeds (optional, but I always add)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, stems removed, leaves chopped
1 scant tablespoon dried basil (plus fresh if you have it on hand)
1 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano (a little more if you like)
1/8 to 1/4 dried chili flakes (optional; add if you like it spicy)
1 to 1/2 teas. fennel seeds (optional, I always add)
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
3 to 4 cans chopped tomatoes (14 ounce, or equivalent)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped Italian parsley to garnish
Kalamata olive halves,
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
Heat olive oil in a Dutch/French oven or large pot over medium high heat, add meat, stirring occasionally, and breaking up so there are no large chunks. When browned reduce heat to medium, add chopped onion, stirring once in a while until translucent but not brown. Add herbs, stir to combine and release their fragrant oils. Add garlic, stir, then wine, stir bottom of pot to deglaze. Add tomatoes and their juice and stir to combine all.
When mixture reaches a boil, reduce heat to low, simmer, partially cover pot (to reduce stove top clean-up), but don't cover entirely, you want the steam to escape to allow the sauce to reduce, thus concentrating the flavors.
Simmer 30 minutes to 1 hour until as thick as you like, stirring occasionally during that time. Taste for salt & pepper, adjust seasonings.
Skim any fat, and discard. Serve hot with fusilli, conchiglioni (shell), farfalle, or any favorite pasta shape.
Offer freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese at the table for each diner to add as they like.