Conchiglie with Sausage, Red Wine, Tomatoes & Sweet Pepper

It’s been an extraordinarily warm day for the first of March, but the evenings still draw in early so it’s dark by supper time and with the darkness comes a chill in the air. So it’s great to make a nice warming supper with a rich sauce; a final lap of winter flavours before spring and summer dishes come in.

I don’t eat sausages often but I’ve discovered that you can make a lovely pasta sauce with them. It’s best to use some good Italian sausages, if possible, maybe from a local Italian deli, or certainly good quality sausages from a butcher; if buying from a supermarket, make sure they have a high meat content. I made this just for myself tonight but it’s easily adaptable to more servings and is a great family supper dish too. The sauce is big and hearty, so you need the appropriate pasta to go with it, like the conchiglie (shells) I used or maybe some large tubes of pasta. With the vegetables it contains it doesn’t really need a side dish or salad, and Parmesan, that seemingly mandatory pasta addition, would definitely be superfluous.

Conchiglie with Sausage, Red Wine, Tomatoes & Sweet Pepper

Gently run a sharp knife down one side of 2 sausages to slit the skin and pull it off. Now shape the sausage meat into small, bite-size balls. Pour 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan and fry the sausage balls until brown. Remove to a plate. Now add to the pan a little more olive oil if there isn’t much left and 1 medium red onion thickly sliced, 1 yellow or red pepper thickly sliced and gently fry for about 5 minutes till they start to soften. Now add a handful of baby plum tomatoes, halved. (If you don’t have baby tomatoes, simply chop up some bigger ones.) Cook gently for another 5-10 minutes until they are starting to soften and the tomatoes collapse. Sprinkle over some fresh chopped basil and thyme.

Put the browned sausage balls back in the pan, stir to mix in and then add a good glug of red wine. You don’t want to completely cover the sausages and vegetables but you want a good amount. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat, cover with a lid and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes. When the wine has cooked down and reduced and you have a lovely thick sauce, turn off the heat. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Meanwhile boil some water, add salt and about 75-100g pasta for one person. When cooked al dente, drain and retain just a little of the cooking liquid. Now add the pasta and a little of the water to the sauce and gently fold in together and serve.

This recipe takes the humble sausage to a new height bringing in gorgeous Mediterranean flavours. So, try ditching the bangers and mash for a weekday supper and bring a little sunshine into your sausage dish.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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