Italian sausage ragu with rigatoni

This is real comfort food – perfect for a cold, wintry evening.  It’s hearty and filling and just crying out for a good glass of red wine to accompany it.  I use Italian Luganega sausages for this recipe but you can use good quality pork sausages either just as they are or with the addition of ‘Italian’ seasoning to the sausagemeat (see below).  Try to get the best quality passata or tomatoes you can find.  I adore Mutti passata.  It’s the best! It’s also a good idea to chop your vegetables as finely as possible as this isn’t supposed to be a chunky sauce.  I use my Kenwood mini chopper for this.

Serves 4 (or 3 if you’re feeling extra hungry!)


  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 celery stick finely chopped
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 400g – 450g Italian-style pork sausages, skin removed.  Or use a good quality pork sausage with added seasoning (see below)
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 700g bottle of passata (or alternatively 2 x 400g tins of chopped or plum tomatoes)
  • 500g dried rigatoni
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped or snipped into small pieces.
  • 80g freshly grated pecorino (parmesan will do too)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste



  1. Take your sausages out of their casings and crumble the meat. I tend to use Italian sausages for this recipe (Luganega sausages, also known as Lucanica and Luganiga). If you can’t find this type of sausage, you can use a good quality pork sausage.  Either leave them as is or you can add 1 tsp each of dried parsley, garlic powder, onion powder and dried basil, along with 1/2 tsp of paprika, a pinch of crushed chilli flakes and a large pinch of dried oregano.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the celery, onion and carrot. Then add the rosemary and season with a touch of salt.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the crumbled sausage meat, and fry for 5–10 minutes or until browned, making sure that you break it up as it’s cooking. You don;t want big lumps of sausagemeat in your sauce.
  4. Add the tomato purée and stir.
  5. Now add your passata or alternatively, 2 tins of tomatoes. If using whole plum tomatoes, either cut through them whilst still in the tin to break them down, or tip them into a bowl and squish them with your hands.
  6. Stir and simmer for a few minutes and then add 250ml water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Get your water on the hob for your pasta.
  7. Cook the rigatoni in a large pan of boiling, salted water as per packet instructions and drain.
  8. Taste and season the sauce with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then tip the rigatoni into the sauce, add the basil and stir well to combine. Sprinkle over the pecorino (or parmesan if using), mix again and then serve. You can add an additional grating of cheese on top if like me there is no such thing to you as too much cheese!



One thought on “Italian sausage ragu with rigatoni

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s