Sausage and saffron pasta (#77)

I cannot recommend this recipe enough as a fantastic little number to have in your repertoire. Incredibly simple. Despite the 40 minute simmer, it’s surprisingly quick. A particular joy is that the flavours are strong despite the relatively small list of ingredients and the lack of any technical skill. The saffron and a good choice of sausage (not just a basic pork sausage) make this rather delectable.

Admittedly, I don’t exactly go scouring butchers shops for “Italian sausage”. Instead, I just buy Waitrose’s pork and herb chipolatas. Scrumptious.

Nigella used  radiatori for this recipe – oh yes, At My Table  is to thank for this – but I can’t get a hold of this at the ‘Trose. Shame, but I’ve alternated between penne and fusilli for this recipe. I personally prefer the fusilli and the structure is probably the most similar to the original radiatori but I guess even rigatoni could work nicely.

Good things: straight forward cooking for bold flavours

Bad things: no real veg to speak of.

Ingredients & requirements: servers around 5

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • A pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 500g of Italian sausage (link for my choice)
  • 25 teaspoon of saffron
  • 600ml of tomato passata (most of a jar)
  • 500g of pasta
  • Basil leaves and grated parmesan to serve

Preparation & cooking


  1. Peel and roughly chop 1 onion and set aside in a bowl
  2. Squeeze the meat out of the 500g of Italian sausages. I’d do this by getting a sharp knife and running down the whole length of the sausage, before unwrapping and discarding the skin. Easiest to set aside on a plate. I’ve give the meat a rough mush or chop up.
  3. The passata should come in a jar probably just a bit larger than is required and I’m sure you can get a 500g bag of pasta. As I say, any pasta will do. Nigella used rigatoni, but I switch between penne and fusilli for this recipe. However, if you can’t but as directed do feel free to measure these out now and set aside.


  1. In a large deep saucepan or casserole (it’ll need to take everything, even if only just), warm 3 tablespoons of oil over a lowish-to-medium heat. Add the 1 chopped onion with a pinch of sea salt in the oil for 10 mins until softened.
  2. Turn up to a medium heat, and add the 500g of sausage meat. Keep breaking it up as your turn it around in the pan for 5 mins.
  3. Add the 25 teaspoon of saffron and the 600ml of passata. Mix slightly and bring to the boil. Then transfer to a quite low heat and cook at a gentle simmer for 40 mins.
  4. During this time, make sure a large saucepan of salted water is on the hob and ready to bring to the boil. Around 11 mins before the sauce is done add in the pasta.
  5. Once done the pasta is done, reserve some pasta cooking liquid in a mug, then drain the pasta. Tip the drained pasta into the sauce, and combine with the sauce. Add a spot off cooking liquid if you need to loosen the sauce a little.
  6. Sprinkle with basil leaves and some grated parmesan.


Who would not love this beautiful orange-red creation on their plate of an evening? As much as it might be the middle of summer right now and I’m still loving it all the same, this would surely be such a delightfully comforting winter dish. Imagine being all tucked up on the sofa, watching TV, sheltering from the cold with a big bowl of hunger-defying pasta and pork. Golly.


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