I’m an Italophile. I just can’t help myself. I love all things Italian: the country, the food, the wine, the language, the music, the clothes, the cars, the style and mostly the attitude to life and what is really important – that being food, love and family. I have already decided that in my next life I am coming back an Italian!
It will come as no surprise then that I cook a lot of Italian dishes and when I just don’t know what to cook, pasta is always my fall-back position. I still never fail to be amazed that just a few simple ingredients put together with the right pasta can make the most glorious of meals and there is no better feeling than putting a large plateful of pasta in the middle of the table for everyone to enjoy – you can just see the comfort and satisfaction on everyone’s face and it is just the best way to share food.
Having enjoyed half an hours escapism to my beloved Italy with Gino d’Acampo, I felt compelled to replicate this recipe he made at a stunning villa on the island of Sardinia and it did not disappoint and so I am happy to recommend you try it.
Pasta with Italian Sausage & Tomato Ragu
4 tbspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Celery stick, finely chopped
1 Onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 Carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbspn chopped fresh Rosemary
400g coarse, Italian Pork Sausages, skin removed
2 tbspn Tomato Purée
2 x 400g tins Diced Tomatoes
500gm Pasta Shells
10 fresh Basil leaves, shredded
80gm freshly grated Pecorino (I used Parmesan in the absence of Pecorino)
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the celery, fry for 1 minute, then add the onion, carrot and rosemary and season with salt. Fry for 7–8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the sausage meat, break it up with a wooden spoon and fry for 5–8 minutes or until browned.
Add the tomato purée and tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour in 250ml water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta shells in a large pan of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain thoroughly.
Tip the pasta shells into the sauce, add the basil leaves and stir for 30 seconds to combine. Sprinkle over the pecorino (or Parmesan) and mix once again.