Tomato, sausage and fennel seed ragu

3738D5C9-7658-44A6-BB39-76B995081154Ragu di salsiccia e semi di finocchio 

This is a fabulous quick ragu that has all the delicious flavours of a home cooked Italian supper. I was taught this recipe as part of my day at Caldesi in Marylebone going back a few years now and this is one of the recipes that I have used so many times over the years, this one and the carbonara which is also very authentic and which I think was the first recipe I posted on my blog! I have already shared the recipe via email to a lot of my instagram followers that have also cooked it many times. It’s worth cooking a big batch and freezing some for an easy throw together supper, or once you have found a good quality Italian sausage then I would definitely recommend keeping some ready in the freezer. It’s the perfect dish to serve not just as a family meal but it works perfectly for a relaxed evening with friends, all you will need is a couple of good bottles of red, lots of Parmesan and crusty bread and you’re good to go!!

The recipe says to use a good quality pork sausage but at the school we used an Italian sausage so I have always done the same, I buy mine from a good local butcher but if you can’t obtain any then don’t let it stop you trying the recipe I’m sure it will still be delicious. I will give you the recipe as I was given it and I will add any tips or tweaks that I have changed over the years. It really is very simple and very tasty! Use any pasta you like, I often use spaghetti, here I’ve used wholewheat spelt penne. You can get the ragu cooked, keep it simmering whilst you cook the pasta.

You will need:

A large saucepan for your pasta and a frying pan for the ragu.

Serves 4


  • 6 lean best quality pork sausages ( Italian sausages if you can get them ) I use 8
  • 6 tbsps olive oil ( at the school we used extra virgin )
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, lightly crushed ( crush with the flat of a knife keeping them whole )
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped ( I use red )
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 125ml red wine
  • 3 heaped tbsp tomato purée 
  • 400g Italian plum tomatoes
  • 25g grated Parmesan ( I don’t weigh the Parmesan I like loads )


Remove the sausages from their casings and break up the meat.

Put the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the garlic, salt and pepper. Fry for about 2 minutes until the garlic becomes light gold. Then add the onion and fry slowly to caramelise, turn the heat down if it’s cooking to quickly. When you’re happy with the onions stir in the fennel seeds and bay leaves.



Put the meat into the pan and fry for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Using a wooden spoon to break up the meat to resemble mincemeat and to stop it sticking. If the sausages release a lot of fat, pour it away although a little won’t harm. You need to cook down the fat until it is translucent.



Add the wine and allow it to reduce for a few minutes, then add the tomato purée and tinned tomatoes and stir well. Leave the ragu to simmer while you prepare your pasta. When your pasta is ready and if serving straight away, drain and toss it into the ragu. Serve in warm bowls and scatter over the Parmesan. 


As you can see by the recipe it can be made very quickly especially compared to the normal ragu, I do as a general rule still let it simmer for a lot longer and often make it earlier in the day then just reheat it slowly whilst the pasta is cooking. Don’t forgot as I mentioned above It’s perfect for freezing so it’s worth making at least a double batch, obviously as with all ragu it’s wonderful the next day. 

This is firmly on our family favourite list and is the perfect hug in a bowl.


Deb xx

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