Quick Overview: (Makes 4-6 servings of sauce probably)
One of my favorite combinations of flavors when it comes to cooking. Tomatoes, Basile, Red Wine, and Italian Sausage make up the backbone of this savory dish. The main star of this dish is really the sauce – which can be used with any sort of pasta to be honest – however I have a soft spot for gnocchi which is why I generally pair this sauce with that pasta (pappardelle or orecchiette would also go well with this).
The dish is most certainly defined by the flavors brought to the table by the Italian Sausage, however this dish could easily be made vegetarian or vegan with the removal of the cheese and the sausage (the flavor might be slightly different but it will still be delicious though you might need to add more salt).
- 6-8 Roma Tomatoes
- Can of Tomato Paste (a few teaspoons worth)
- Spinach (several handfuls)
- Portobello Mushrooms (one container)
- Handful of Fresh Basil
- Several cloves of garlic
- A medium-sized shallot
- Pasta (I used a package of store-bought gnocchi which was enough for two people and I still have plenty of leftover sauce afterwards)
- Bottle of cheap red wine (I used a ten dollar bottle, you’d probably be fine using whatever just don’t use something too fancy as it won’t make much of a difference and don’t use something too cheap like…box wine or something)
- Spices: Dried Parsley, Basil, Smoked Paprika, Red Chili Flakes, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil, Water I guess
- A pound or so of Italian Sausage (this can be left out if you want to keep this vegetarian)
- OPTIONAL(?): Cheese. How am I kidding, is cheese ever optional?
- Mince your shallot and garlic.
- Chop your Roma tomatoes into quarters and eighths. De-core them (picture below of what I mean by de-core)
- Slice your portobello mushrooms
- In a large sauté pan, pour a small amount of olive oil. Heat it up and then move the pan around so that there is an even coating of oil on the bottom of the plan.
- Through your shallot and garlic mixture in, seasoning it lightly with salt and pepper. Allow it sizzle in the pan a bit until it starts to become fragrant and the shallots start to become translucent. The heat should still be around medium to medium-high.
- In a separate pan being cooking your Italian Sausage. You will want to break this up so it turns into small chunks. Let it brown over medium heat while you monitor your sauce. Once it’s mostly browned/cooked, remove this from heat and keep it off to the side. You will be adding it to the sauce at the very end.
- Throw your sliced mushrooms into the pan with the garlic and shallots. Toss in some dried Oregano, Basil, Parsley, Smoked Paprika, Red Chili flakes, and some more ground pepper.
- After about a minute or so – or sooner if things are getting a bit too hot – open up that bottle of red wine and toss in about 4 oz worth of liquid. Toss in your sliced Roma Tomatoes and a teaspoons worth of tomato paste. Turn the heat up to high and add 4 oz worth of water to help the tomato paste to break down.
- Bring the mixture to a boil. Season with additional basil and parsley. As the liquid starts to boil out, add in another cup of water and another teaspoons worth of tomato paste. You may toss in some more red wine. We’re aiming for the sauce to have a slightly maroon color.
- Repeat step nine until you get your desired color/taste until the tomatoes have broken down and dissolved into your sauce. Turn the heat down to medium.
- At this point add in your fresh basil (strip the leaves off of the steps, no need to chop) and several handful of spinach. Let them wilt into the sauce by stirring them around until they start to look “not fresh”
- Add in your Italian Sausage at this point and turn the heat down to a simmer and leave it alone while you cook your pasta.
- Follow the directions that are listed on your pasta when you cook it with the only exception being if it asks you to add oil to your water or if it asks you to douse your hot pasta in cold water after it is drained. Don’t do that it makes me sad 😦
- Once your pasta’s finished and drained, take the sauce off heat (check a large piece of Italian Sausage to insure that it is fully cooked through) and you’re done.