We used the salvageable parts of some of our bruised or blighted tomatoes to make what is unquestionably one of our favorite meals: Spaghetti with sausage sauce.
Sausage sauce is best when you use full-blow hot Italian pork sausage, but our waistlines couldn’t tolerate having that in the regular rotation. Fortunately, we’ve hit on a very serviceable alternative that uses plain old ground turkey. We mix together spices that approximate the Italian sausage flavor, and add them to the ground meat. Once it’s all cooked up in a spicy sauce, you barely miss the pork.
One pound of meat makes a very meaty sauce with two 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (or the fresh equivalent, in this case), and serves four unless two of them are Kevin and me, in which case it might serve three.
Faux Italian Sausage Seasoning
Per pound of ground meat (we use turkey, although we prefer pork):
1 ½ t. black pepper
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 t. (more or less) crushed red pepper
½ t. paprika
1 t. salt
½ t. ground fennel
1 ½ t. crushed fennel seed (I mortar and pestle ‘em)
1 ½ t. sugar
1 large garlic clove, pressed or chopped very fine
Mix the spices together, and then mix them into the meat. Try not to compact the mixture too much as you mix.
To make the sauce, sauté the meat and remove it from the pan. Then make whatever your go-to marinara sauce is. This is mine – if it looks familiar, that’s because you’ve seen it before, disguised as red clam sauce. This is the sausage version
2 t. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
10-15 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1-2 t. crushed red pepper, or to taste
1 cup red wine
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 lb. cooked Italian-style sausage
¼ c. dried oregano
½ cup chopped parsley
1. In a saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re completely wilted and beginning to brown, about ten minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper and continue to cook another couple of minutes.
2. Add the red wine and cook until it has cooked down to the point where there is very little liquid in the pan. Add the tomatoes, sausage, and oregano and simmer until the mixture has a saucy consistency. This could take as long as half an hour, depending on how you like it. Add the parsley at the very end.