Category Archives: Italian

Sausage Ragù

Perhaps this blog post should be titled “The Best Sauce Ever”…  However, that’s a fairly subjective claim to make.  If you ask my husband, though, he’ll tell you this is not only the best sauce ever, but that it is the best thing I have ever made.

So, while this rich meat sauce is certainly not the most photogenic food in the world (especially since I was taking photos well after the sun had gone down), I just had to share the recipe with you! I’ve been meaning to share this one for a while, actually. I first discovered this sauce last January.  My hubby bought me Anne Burrell’s book Cook Like a Rockstar for Christmas, and her sausage ragù was one of the first things I made.  We were having my family over for a birthday dinner, and I planned to make lasagna. I wanted a rich, meaty sauce to take the lasagna up a notch, and the recipe was just what I was looking for.

I’ve made the sauce a few times since then (not as many as I’d like, though, since I couldn’t eat tomatoes during most of my pregnancy), and it continues to be a favorite at my house. I’ve changed the recipe a bit to make a slightly bigger batch since the sauce is always such a big hit.  It takes quite a while (4+ hours!), so it’s one of those recipes where it pays to make a big batch.

I’m pretty sure you won’t need much help figuring out how to use the sauce.  It’s perfect on its own, so all you really need to do is add some cooked pasta.  Of course, I frequently use it in lasagna.  The sauce is so rich that you don’t really need much else… Just layer the noodles with ricotta cheese, a blend of mozzarella and provolone, and sauce. I’ve also made pizza with leftover sauce, too. It was some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.  Since the recipe makes a big batch, you’ll likely have plenty of leftovers.  I highly recommend freezing individual portions of the sauce (I usually freeze it in 2 cup containers) so that you have it on hand.  I’m not big on leftovers, but this is one of the few things that I get excited to pull out of the freezer and heat up for dinner!

Sausage Ragù
Makes about 10 – 12 cups
(Adapted from Cook Like a Rockstar)

  • 4 ribs celery, cut into large chunks
  • 2 large onions, cut in a large dice
  • 1 large bulb fennel, cored and cut into a large dice
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 18 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) bottle of red wine
    (Pick one that you like to drink… I used a merlot)
  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Water
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Begin by pulsing the vegetables (celery, onion, fennel, and garlic) in the food processor until finely chopped. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to work in batches.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven or heavy pot. Add the vegetable mixture, and cook until the vegetables are tender and start to brown. Stir every few minutes to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot and let new brown bits develop again. Continue to cook until the mixture is well browned, up to 30 minutes.

Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to mix into the vegetables.  Cook for just a minute or two.  Then, add the bottle of wine and scrape up any remaining bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the wine has reduced by about half, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Add the sausage to the pot and use a wooden spoon to break it cooks. Continue to cook until the sausage is completely browned, scraping the pot occasionally.  The sausage will take about 10 minutes to cook.

Once the sausage is cooked, add the herbs to the pot and then add enough water to cover the sausage mixture by about 1/2 inch. Season with salt and pepper.  Stir the sauce, scraping the bottom of the pot once again.  Then, bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for a minute, then reduce to a simmer.

Simmer the sauce for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has cooked and thickened up, taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.

Please Note – The links to Cook Like a Rockstar provided in this post are Amazon affiliate links.  If you purchase this cookbook (or another item) after  clicking on my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale price, which helps to keep My Kitchen Addiction up and running. Thanks!

Italian Turkey Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of those foods that is often overlooked in my kitchen.  I have nothing against it. In fact, I quite like it.  I just don’t usually think to make it, and it doesn’t make its way into the weekly menu very often.

A few weeks ago, though, my mom mentioned that she had made meatloaf over the weekend so that she had it for dinner during the week, and a lightbulb went off in my head.  Meatloaf really is an easy meal to make during the week.  It can be prepared the night before (or even two or three days before) and just popped in the oven before dinner.

So, I decided that I would make some meatloaf, too. Instead of my usual meatloaf, though, I decided to make a turkey meatloaf with lean ground turkey that happened to be on sale at the store that week.  Since I didn’t want the meatloaf to be lacking in flavor, I decided to give it an extra boost with some of my favorite Italian ingredients.

It was quick and easy to mix up, and it stayed nice and moist when it was baked.  I served it with a green salad and some of the garlic bubble loaf I shared last week. Both my hubby and I enjoyed the Italian twist on traditional meatloaf dinner. I may even be adding meatloaf to the weekly menu a bit more frequently! Continue Reading

Italian Sausage and Egg Bake

I have mixed feelings about the time after New Years… I always feel a bit of sadness taking down the Christmas decorations.  Once the tree comes down, there’s no denying that the holiday season is over.  But, at the same time, I enjoy the quietness of the winter months that follow the holidays. I look forward to cozy mornings in my kitchen and blankets of white snow on the ground.  It’s a time of year when our lives aren’t quite as busy and we can enjoy just relaxing and spending some time at home.

Those same feelings also tend to influence my mood in the kitchen, as well.  I find that I prefer simple and cozy dishes. Instead of preparing extravagant dishes and entertaining friends and family, I enjoy focusing on the day-to-day routine – preparing a warm breakfast for my hubby and I, stocking the freezer with meals for busy nights, and making comforting dishes for chilly winter evenings.

This sausage and egg bake is a twist on a traditional egg casserole.  You know the one… Bread cubes, breakfast sausage, eggs, milk, cheddar cheese.  Almost everyone has made it at one time or another. It’s fast to prepare and always a crowd pleaser.

Since the original is such a favorite, I decided to make a new version with an Italian twist.  I swapped out the breakfast sausage for some Italian sausage and added some herbs. Mozzarella cheese takes the place of the traditional cheddar, and I’ve added a sprinkling of tomatoes.

It’s warm, comforting, and easy. It can be prepared ahead of time, and it also reheats well.  It makes a lovely weekend breakfast or brunch, especially on a chilly winter morning.  But, it can also be served for lunch or dinner… Just toss together a green salad to serve with it for a complete meal. What’s not to love? Continue Reading

Baked Ziti Casserole

When it comes to dinner parties around the holidays, I am all for thinking outside the box. Turkey, ham, and roast beef are fantastic, but sometimes I think it’s fun to do something a bit more casual and cozy, especially for a small gathering of friends or family!

Casseroles are a great way to keep things simple when you are entertaining for the holidays. Most casseroles can be prepared the night before, which leaves you with plenty of extra time to prep for your holiday guests.

Lately, one of my favorite casseroles is a simple baked ziti. It comes together quickly and has all of the flavors of lasagna.  Plus, it’s almost always a crowd pleaser!

Whether you’re entertaining a group of friends for the holidays or just enjoying a chilly evening at home, this is a classic dish that I think you’re going to want to try! Continue Reading

Ricotta Gnocchi

A few months ago, I introduced my husband to ricotta gnocchi. I ordered it at one of our favorite local restaurants, and he gave me a skeptical look. But, then he took a bite. Ever since, he’s been hooked.

The thing is, I’ve never actually made gnocchi before. Not successfully, at least. I’ve attempted to make sweet potato gnocchi in the past, but they turned out gummy. And, we ended up ordering takeout that night. So, I’ve shyed away from it ever since.

For this month’s Kitchen Bootcamp challenge, I decided that it was time that I revisit gnocchi. Since my husband is so smitten with ricotta gnocchi, I figured that was a good place to start. The fact that it’s not made with potatoes and wasn’t as likely to be a gummy mess like my last gnocchi attempt certainly didn’t hurt, either.

I used the recipe in The Professional Chef as my guide for the gnocchi. I was really surprised how easy the recipe was. I really should have given it a try sooner! The only slight issue that I had was that the batter is supposed to be shaped into quenelles using two spoons as it’s dropped into the boiling water. My quenelle skills are a bit lacking, so I ended up with more of a lopsided dumpling shape. But, they tasted fantastic. My hubby said they were as good as the ones from the restaurant and informed me that I should add them to his Husband’s Picks category right away. I consider that a success! Continue Reading