Sausage and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

It must be Monday, y’all!  So let’s link up all our best real food recipes that can be made ahead!

Recently, I began noticing a certain blogger who is a contributor to Chowstalker.  I began noticing her not just because she was posting wonderful-looking recipes, but because instead of accompanying the recipes with a photo, she was posting gorgeous – and creative – illustrations.  Her name is Alex Boake, and she is a professional illustrator based in Toronto, as well as a marvelous cook.

I began following Alex’s blog, and she has become a contributor to Make Ahead Monday (in fact, she’s linked up this very recipe).  Recently, she contacted me and suggested we do a “recipe swap” – she’d choose a recipe I’d posted, cook it and do one of her marvelous illustrations, and I would choose one of her recipes, cook and photograph it.  I agreed quite eagerly, and we decided on the recipes and when we would post them.

It was hard to choose which of Alex’s delicious recipes to cook but I decided on this one – Sausage and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce.  And I am so glad I did – this is one of the best pasta sauces I’ve ever had.  It also makes a ton – I fed it to eight people for dinner and still had 6 quart jars leftover for my freezer; the recipe will initially fill an 8-quart stock pot to the brim.

I made a couple of minor modifications to the original recipe.  Alex calls for 4 pounds of hot Italian sausage in casings; I was feeding people who weren’t tolerant of extremely spicy foods, so I used 2 pounds of hot Italian sausage and 2 pounds of plain ground pork.  In addition, I only had bulk sausage so I couldn’t pre-cook them in the casings, but I don’t think the sauce suffered from the change.  I increased the mushrooms from 14 ounces (her recipe specifies half of a 28-ounce package) to 1 pound.  I also streamlined the recipe directions a little; Alex presents her recipes in a lovely conversational format, and my OCD kicks in when I begin writing them 🙂 However, the recipe is essentially the same.

I served this over pasta for my guests; Beloved and I had it over a roasted parsnip puree.  I have plans for the leftovers, so expect to see this make a reappearance in the future.  And, as always, if you don’t eat pork you can replace it with turkey sausage/ground turkey.

And please visit Alex’s blog; her recipes are delicious, her illustrations are stunning, and she is a sweetheart.

Sausage and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce
Sausage and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce
Serves: 20
  • 2 pounds bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 4 cans (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes
  • 4 can (6 oz) cans tomato paste
  • 1 pound sliced white mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee, divided
  • 4 medium onions, diced
  • 4 sweet red peppers, cut into thin strips about 1-inch long
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. Wipe the tops of the cans of tomatoes with a clean, damp cloth; remove the lids with a can opener. Using a sharp knife, roughly chop/slice the tomatoes while they are still in the cans. This will help the tomatoes reduce in the sauce as they cook.
  2. Pour the tomatoes into an 8-quart stock pot; add the tomato paste. Bring the mixture briefly to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Add the mushrooms to the sauce.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee or clarified butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent; add the minced garlic and cook for one minute more. Stir the onion/garlic mixture into the sauce in the stock pot. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee to the skillet and cook the red peppers over medium heat just until they begin to soften; add to the sauce.
  4. Stir the bay leaves, basil, salt and oregano into the sauce.
  5. Heat the same skillet you cooked the onions and peppers in over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage and ground pork, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, just until it is no longer pink. Add the meat to the sauce in the stock pot.
  6. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce burning on the bottom. Remove the bay leaves and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, before serving.
  7. Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash, mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes or roasted parsnip puree. Freeze the remaining portions for later use.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 354 calories, 26.6g total fat, 73.2mg cholesterol, 914.7mg sodium, 785.8mg potassium, 13g carbohydrates, 3.3g fiber, 7.2g sugar, 17g protein.

PLEASE – post recipes with whole, real food ingredients only. Dairy, sprouted grains and legumes and natural sweeteners are allowed, but recipes containing processed or refined ingredients or vegetable oils will be removed.  Don’t forget to link back to this post! Thanks for your cooperation.

11 thoughts on “Sausage and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce”

  1. Nice dish. I usually always remove Italian sausage from the casings before I cook them into a sauce. Chalk it up to my restaurant roots. In a pinch, one can even make Italian sausage from ground pork – all that is needed to be done is add the seasonings and spices. (Toasted fennel, chili flakes, oregano, and other goodies.)

    Jan, can you tolerate small amounts of white rice? I find it can be served on top of Jasmine or even risotto and have almost the same effect as a “pasta” night. In fact, the risotto idea sounds divine… hmm – looks like that will be on the menu for this week!

    1. Alex’s intent in pre-cooking the sausages in their casings before removing them and breaking up the meat is to keep a certain amount of texture in the dish, and I can see the logic in that. I tried to keep the meat “chunky” during cooking, but after simmering it for the required 3 to 4 hours, it broke down. Not that it detracted from the flavor at all.

      I can tolerate small amounts of white rice, but since that’s the one grain I have problems controlling the consumption of, I try to limit it to the infrequent visits to our favorite Japanese restaurant.

  2. Sounds excellent! And easy to cut down for our little family. I think I’d use sweet Italian sausages, because neither Jimmy or Jude will do spicy. Which I HATE.

  3. I really love what you and Alex are doing here Jan! And you are the only woman in the world that can make me crave pureed parsnips. 🙂

  4. Wow, this looks so awesome, Jan! You plate and photograph so beautifully! Usually I am just too ravenous by the time the sauce is done cooking that I dig in regardless of the look of my plate. ; ) Your picture is making me want to eat this right now! I think I have some in the freezer, too.

    I’m glad you and your crew enjoyed the sauce–especially since it makes such a huge amount. We usually go for whatever (gluten-free, additive free) pork sausage is on sale, so sometimes it’s spicier than others. It’s quite flexible! Actually, I do remove the casings when I make this, I find that they don’t really add much to the sauce, and the sausage stays in chunks without them.

    I’ve never had parsnip before! Did it go well with the sauce?

  5. The one thing I miss is the pizza I grew up on. It’s a one of a kind deep dish pizza but frankly it was the piled sausage that really gave it the flavor. A flavor I never thought I could replicate or find. This is that find! The sauce is delicious and I’m sure a new staple in our house. Maybe we’ll can a huge batch this summer when the tomatoes are fresh.

    Thanks Alex!

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