A quick and easy 15-minute weeknight pasta recipe, this spaghetti with red sauce is made with hearty Italian sausage.
This pasta dinner recipe is a dish I’ve been eating my entire life. Passed down from my beautiful mother, it is fast, easy and oh-so-comforting.
While there’s nothing fancy about this Italian sausage red sauce, there are a few secrets I’ve learned over the years to help develop and intensify the flavors. First and foremost: allow the sausage to get nicely browned. The browning is the result of caramelization which occurs when the natural sugars start to cook and caramelize.
My next tip is to garnish with fresh herbs. Basil is optimal but even a little fresh Italian parsley can help perk up the flavors of the sauce.
When it comes to Parmesan cheese, look for high-quality Parmigiano Reggiano. You’ll know it’s the real deal if you see the stamp on the rind. Using high-quality cheese with a strong flavor means you can get away using less of it. (Read: more calories saved for wine.)
Speaking of wine, my mom would always deglaze the pan with a little dry red wine. The acidity of the alcohol helps balances the salt, fat and sweet flavors of the Italian sausage. You can skip it of course but this is why restaurant pasta always tastes better than pasta at home.
What are your favorite family pasta recipes? I’d love to hear from you.
Your fork is waiting.
Frequently asked questions:
Is this dish good for freezing?
Can I use sausage links or ground sausage?
Either one will work – Links or bulk.
Spaghetti with Italian Sausage Red Sauce
- 12 ounces spaghetti (cooked according to package instructions)
- 4 links Italian sausage (sweet or spicy)
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
- ½ cup red wine (optional)
- 16 ounces whole peeled tomatoes
- 16 ounces tomato sauce (or pureed tomatoes)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- parmesan cheese and basil (optional garnish)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Tip: Salt the water heavily as this is your only chance to season the pasta.
- While pasta is cooking, heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Remove sausage from casing and cook in pan until golden brown, using a wooden spoon to break the sausage into bite-sized pieces.
- When the sausage is cooked, add the onion, garlic, oregano and fennel seeds to the pan, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the onions are soft and translucent, about 6-7 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with red wine using the wooden spoon to scape up any browned bits from the bottom. Stir in whole peeled tomatoes and tomato sauce then gently break down the whole peeled tomatoes with the wooden spoon. Alternatively, you can use scissors.
- Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in pasta and garnish with cheese and basil before serving.
Want more delicious dinner ideas? Check out my Pinterest board!