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~ Sausage, Pepper and Onion Pasta or Pizza Sauce ~

IMG_0874Spaghetti with ground meat sauce.  It's an all-American Italian-American classic that makes short work of pleasing all the people all the time (while feeding all of them at the same time) -- especially kids.  Ground beef, diced onion, crushed tomatoes, herbs and seasonings.  It might be basic and simple, but it's a meal everyone wants to come home to.  I raised three boys, and, in terms of spaghetti with meat sauce, there was one variation they enjoyed with equal enthusiasm: my bolder, fuller-flavored "sausage sandwich sauce"  -- that is what they affectionately named it.

"Sausage sandwich sauce."  That's what my boys named it.

IMG_0899If you're familiar with the fixings for the beloved and classic Italian-American sausage sandwich (sautéed or grilled sausage links or patties, bell peppers and onions), it's obvious why my kids astutely named it "sausage sandwich sauce".  My thick, rich, sausage, pepper and onion sauce is perfect for pasta and pizza -- it's like eating a sausage sandwich served on pasta or pizza (rather than heaped atop a sandwich roll or slathered over a pizza crust).  There's more.  Unlike traditional Italian meat sauces, which simmer low and slow for a long time to develop the flavor, this one can be made quickly -- about 15 minutes to prep the ingredients, 15 minutes to sauté the meat and veggies, and, 15 minutes to simmer the actual sauce.  Cook the pasta while the sauce is simmering and voila:  dinner is on the table in 45 short minutes.  Tell me -- what's not to love.

All the flavor of a sausage sandwich -- on pasta or pizza

IMG_07934  tablespoons olive oil

12-16  ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage (or a combination of both), casings removed, pulled into small bits and pieces

6  ounces diced yellow or sweet onion

6  ounces diced green bell pepper

6  ounces diced red bell pepper

2  teaspoons dried oregano

1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2   teaspoon sugar

1 1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

1/2  cup Chianti (an Italian red wine), or Port wine

1  6-ounce can tomato paste

2  28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (6 cups crushed tomatoes)

IMG_0798 IMG_0802 IMG_0805~ Step 1.  Place the olive oil in the bottom of a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan with straight deep sides. Using your fingertips, quickly pull and drop small bits of sausage into the pan -- it ok if they overlap or fall on top of each other. Sauté over medium-high heat, using a spatula to keep the meat moving constantly, just until sausage bits have started to firm up and have lost almost all of their pink color, about 2-3 minutes.

Note:  Why pull the sausage apart first rather than break it up with a spatula while it cooks (which is a bit easier)?  It's personal.  I like small, soft, succulent bits and pieces of cooked but unbrowned sausage swimming around in my sauce.  If it is put in the pan "as is" and broken up with a spatula as it cooks, a good deal of it starts to brown and crisp, which turns small, soft, succulent bits into bigger, harder, dried-out chunks and pieces.  My way is more refined.

IMG_0810 IMG_0814 IMG_0816~ Step 2.  Add onions and bell peppers to pan along with the seasonings (oregano, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt and black pepper).  Stir to combine and continue to sauté, stirring almost constantly, until vegetables are just softened, 5-6 minutes.  Do not overcook -- the bell peppers should still be colorful.

IMG_0819 IMG_0821 IMG_0825 IMG_0834~Step 3.  Stir the  wine into the vegetables, followed by the tomato paste.  When tomato paste is completely incorporated, add the crushed tomatoes.  Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.  There's no reason to cook this full-flavored sauce longer.  

Remove from heat & use to sauce pasta or pizza.

IMG_0845Or portion into food storage containers & freeze.

IMG_0856Tread lightly.  A little of this bold sauce goes a long way.

IMG_0882My Sausage, Pepper & Onion Pasta & Pizza Sauce:  Recipe yields 10 cups/enough to sauce 3 pounds of pasta/enough for 3 meals, or, enough to sauce 6, 12"-round pizzas.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; spatula; 1-cup measuring container; large spoon

6a0120a8551282970b017ee9a89cc2970dCook's Note:  Anyone who has raised children knows that Italian-American spaghetti and meatballs and many pasta dishes in general keep the complaints down to a minimum. Surely you didn't think I'd post today's sausage sauce without giving you the link to my ~ Pasta with Ground Meat Sauce ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)


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