I didn’t always cook or was interested to do so. It wasn’t till I had to fend for myself at university, that I knew what to do with a wooden spoon and a sauce pan. One of the first Italian recipes I taught myself was a sausage ragu that I found in the River Cafe cookbook. I remember following the recipe, step by step, tasting it as I went along and thinking ‘OMG, this is tasting REALLY good’. I started to realise that I didn’t have to wait to go home to eat a good Italian home made dish. That’s where I started my love of cooking and haven’t looked back since. Obsessing Over the years I adapted the sausage ragu recipe and evolved it into a TTI classic including this pasta bake version.
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- Teaspoon of Italian dry herbs (rosemary, fennel, oregano, basil)
- 500g Italian sausage, finely chopped
- 125g pancetta, diced
- 150ml red wine
- 750ml Tomato passata
- 500g Conchiglioni grande (Large Pasta shells)
- 50ml Italian Panna or double cream
- 50g Parmesan
- Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened
- Add the chilli flakes and Italian herbs and give it a good stir.
- Then add the sausage meat and pancetta
- Cook the meat until its browned.
- Pour in the red wine, turn up the heat slightly, stir and cook until the wine has evaporated.
- Then to finish the sauce, pour in the passata and allow it to cook for about 40-50 minutes giving the sauce a stir now and again.
- Finally, add half the parmesan and cream and stir it through the sauce.
- Cook the pasta shells in salted boiling water until they are extra dente…Knock off two minutes off the cooking time at least. Drain
- In an oven dish, first add a layer of sauce, then a layer of pasta; then pour more sauce over the pasta, another layer of pasta, then finish with a layer of sauce. Sprinkle more parmesan on top.
- Cover the over dish with tin foil, and cook in a pre-heated oven at 180c for 20 minutes. Make sure the pasta is cooked through until al dente.
- Serve hot.