It feels a bit like I have spent the last month and a half in my car. Shuttling the Bean to and from school each day, nipping over to our under-renovation house to solve this or that dilemma (did we forget to vent the stove? Will we actually be able to get a washer/dryer through that door?), and driving out to various middle-of-nowhere warehouses to source hardwood, tiles, bathroom fixtures and all the other things that can apparently only be sold in the middle-of-nowhere.
I’ve learned a few important things in the process—like all the words to the new Justin Bieber single, and the best places to make a left turn during rush hour—but the downside to being on the road all day is that I haven’t been able to really dig into my fall cooking. This is the time of year for stewing, roasting and braising, all of which require some commitment of time. If not prep time, at least time spent sitting a stone’s throw from the oven or stove-top while the braise or stew or roast is underway. Time that I am instead dedicating to singing pop songs at the top of my lungs while I drive on the highway to the middle-of-nowhere.
I’m hoping I will get out of the car and make time for my roasting, stewing and braising eventually, but in the meantime I’ve been relying on my arsenal of super-quick, whip-it-up-when-you-walk-in-the-door dinners. The kinds of meals that come together from basic ingredients in under 30 minutes, and are the saviours of any busy family’s meal plan. I know you guys love those.
This Three Ingredient Italian Sausage and Mushroom Bolognese is one of those wonderful 30-minute meals. It uses a couple of cheater ingredients—Italian sausage and a jarred tomato sauce (no shame in that, folks)—to create the kind of flavour that would normally require a much bigger list of ingredients and longer cooking time.
I’ve noted in the recipe that you should use a “good quality” jarred tomato sauce, which at the risk of sounding like a total food snob, means that you should pass over the Pregos and Ragus (and even the Classicos, though I recall that being kind of a fancy thing back when I was a kid) in favour of something with fewer ingredients, possibly an “artisanal” or “all natural” label, and generally (I’m afraid) a slightly higher price tag. I quite like the “White Linen” pasta sauce that I buy from my local Costco, but Coscto tends to source many of its products locally so depending on where you live it might not be available at yours. If you can’t find something suitable, plain old crushed tomatoes will probably do the trick as long as you are using really flavourful sausages.
As for the sausages, make sure those are top quality too. To be clear you are looking not for wieners or breakfast sausages, but for the fat chubby sausages that usually contain just meat and spices (and occasionally some sort of bread-like filler, which I generally avoid). If you like your pasta sauces to be spicy, pick a hot Italian sausage. If you don’t eat pork, look for a chicken, turkey or lamb sausage. As long as the sausage is flavourful and made in such a way that you can squeeze the meat from the casing, then it will work for this recipe.
To complete this 30-minute meal, serve the sauce over chubby pasta (rigatoni, penne or rotini are wonderful, but any pasta will do the trick) and a tossed salad or some steamed broccoli. If you are a carb-avoider or paleo type, you can substitute zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for the chubby pasta.
- 1 pound good quality Italian sausages
- ½ pound (~227 grams) mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 3 to 4 cups good quality jarred tomato pasta sauce (amount depends on your preference for saucy vs. chunky)
- Cooked pasta, for serving (**start the water boiling before you make the sauce and your pasta should be ready just in time)
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings and into the pan, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon.
- Stir the sausage occasionally until it is browned and almost cooked through.
- Push the sausage to one side of the pan and add the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms brown on one side, then flip them over to brown on the other side.
- Stir in the tomato pasta sauce, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 5-10 minutes.
- Serve over the cooked pasta, garnishing with chopped fresh parsley and parmesan cheese if desired.