A rich and flavour packed Tuscan sausage ragu made with the most delicious Italian sausages, fennel seeds, red wine and plum tomatoes, cooked to perfection and served with Pici pasta.
This Tuscan sausage ragu is one of my favourite recipes that I’ve been making for years way before I lived here and used to visit Bella Italia on holiday. Yes, I’m that person that goes on holiday to cook for hours and I love it. The ragu is very simple and extremely easy to make. Ok, it takes a little time but not hours, just enough time for the beautiful flavours to develop and the sauce to become, rich and deep in flavour.
The sausages are the main ingredient and the star of the whole dish so it’s extremely important to use high-quality sausages, the best you can get your hands on.
No matter what supermarket or butcher I go to in Italy the sausages like all food are high-quality and bursting with flavour. One thing I have noticed about their sausages is that they are very well seasoned. Because of this whatever dish I’m making with sausages requires hardly if not any added salt, these babies add all the seasoning that’s needed.
The sausages (unless they’re salsicce piccante) don’t have any chili or hot pepper flakes in them instead they are packed full of fennel seeds, rosemary, red wine and garlic. I love reading the ingredients list on the packages, there are no preservatives or nasties just honest, natural food and herbs, no wonder they taste so damn delicious.
The ragu starts like a lot of Italian sauces, stews and soups, with Il Soffritto. Il Soffritto is very simply, finely chopped carrot, celery and white onion sauteed slowly with a little olive oil for about 10 minutes until soft but not brown. This adds incredible depth of flavour to many dishes and can even be made in advance to add into weeknight meals for an extra flavour punch.
How to make il soffritto
Finely chop equal amounts of carrot, white onion and celery. They don’t have to be exactly equal amounts, just roughly around about the same. For this Tuscan sausage ragu, I use 1 medium sized carrot, 1 celery stick and 1 small white onion. Saute the chopped veggies in a large pan with a little olive oil. The key is to saute the veg slowly on a low/medium heat so they soften and release all the delicious flavours without browning or burning.
Did I tell you I hate celery?
Uggh the smell makes me heave but I never used to be that way. A couple of years ago I made celeriac and apple soup which was delicious and had absolutely nothing wrong with it. A few hours later I started to feel so ill, completely unrelated to the soup btw. Anyway, I somehow caught a horrible sickness bug that left me floored for days. Since then I have never been able to stand the smell or taste of celeriac or celery *shudder*. Has that ever happened to you with a food you used to like?
I still use it for my soffritto because you can’t taste the strong flavour of celery and I will admit it gives a wonderful flavour to dishes.
Ok let’s talk about that Pici pasta though, how amazing is it? Pici pasta is famously used for Cacio e Pepe, a cheesy peppery dish that’s also frequently called Pici e Pepe which I just love to say so much more.
It’s super thick spaghetti shaped fresh pasta that is so delicious with many sauces and goes perfectly with this Tuscan sausage ragu. Try sucking up a strand of pici…it takes so much more effort let me tell you, ha!
This sausage ragu is so perfect for weeknights, you can make it in advance the day before or freeze it for a speedy supper. It’s also as equally special to have at the weekend. It’s that type of dish that could be served up for date night or eaten on the sofa in your pyjamas with a large glass of vino rosso.
For more easy pasta recipes try;
- Mafalde pasta with butter and parmesan
- Farfalle pasta with pancetta, chili and garlic
- Creamy butternut squash pasta
- Spicy sausage pasta bake
- Bucatini with roasted red pepper cream sauce
If you’ve tried this Pici with Tuscan sausage ragu or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.
- 1 lb (490g) Tuscan or Italian sausages
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 small white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 large sprig rosemary
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3.4 fl oz (100ml) red wine
- 1.7 lbs (800g) tinned plum tomatoes
- 7 fl oz (200ml) water
- salt and pepper
- 1.1 lbs (500g) pici
Very finely chop the carrot, onion, celery and garlic, set aside. remove the sausages from their casings and add to a large pan under a medium heat. Break the sausages up as they brown using the side of a wooden spoon. Once browned, remove the sausages to a plate and drain any excess fat that's in that pan.
Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and adjust the heat to medium/low. Add the carrot, celery and onion and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon for around 10 minutes until the veg is soft and the onions are translucent but not brown.
Add the sausage meat back to the pan and add the garlic for 1 minute then add the wine. Stir the mixture for 1 minute then add the tinned tomatoes and 200ml of water. Add a good pinch of pepper and the sprig of rosemary.
Let the ragu simmer for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add another 100ml of water half way through if it starts to reduce too much.
Once the ragu is ready turn it down to the lowest heat possible and bring a pot of salty water to a boil. Add the pici pasta and cook according to packet instructions, once cooked remove the pasta from the water using a spaghetti spoon into the ragu. Toss the pasta through the ragu then serve in large bowls. Serve with grated parmesan.
Please note this recipe was tested and developed using metric measurements, all imperial measurements are approximate.