When I was a kid, my mom made spaghetti at least once a week, because it was a dish we all liked. This is my variation, enhanced with lots of fresh vegetables and chicken sausage instead of ground beef. I use a mix of bulk Italian chicken sausage — one-third hot, the other two-thirds mild — but feel free to alter the ratio to your own taste. Besides spaghetti, this sauce is also good with penne, shells, and fettucine; I’ve also used it making lasagna.
| ||~ || Olive oil |
| ||1 || small onion, chopped |
| ||2 || carrots, peeled and diced |
| ||2 || celery stalks, diced |
| ||1 || bunch chard, stems and leaves chopped separately |
| ||1 || lb. Italian chicken sausage |
| ||1 || can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved |
| ||1 || can (6 ounces) tomato paste |
| ||1 || tsp. oregano |
| ||¼ || tsp. ground fennel seeds (optional) |
| ||~ || Salt and pepper |
| ||~ || Honey (optional) |
- Cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil. Heat to medium and cook the onion until it turns translucent. Add the carrots, celery, and Swiss chard stems, and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
- With a wooden spoon, move the vegetables to the outside circle of the pot, add more oil if necessary, and add the sausage. Cook the sausage, breaking it up with the spoon, until it is no longer pink.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato paste, oregano, and ground fennel seeds. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and the flavors have melded.
- Five minutes before serving, stir in the chopped Swiss chard leaves and cook until wilted. Taste sauce and season accordingly with salt and freshly ground black pepper, adding a spoonful of honey if the sauce tastes too acidic.
Turn this into a hearty vegetarian marinara sauce by omitting the sausage.
For tips on re-using leftover sauce, read Carrie Floyd’s column on surplus cooking.