A sausage is a sausage is a sausage, right?

Not in Italy. And not when you want to do a lush Italian sausage ragu with penne.

PREP TIME: 10 mins
30 mins – 1.5hrs (you decide)
midweek meal, crowd-please, family

Wine pairing: Michael Sutton’s Cellar suggests with ragu you try a Chianti Classico dry with the sour cherry flavours of the Sangiovese grape or an aromatic Montepulciano D’Abruzzo with earthy notes, spice and pepper!

Italian sausage ragu with penne

I’ve become a big fan of sausage ragu.

Because, it’s such a simple way to whip up a quick, delicious meal for hungry mouths.

When I first set up this blog it was the ‘Simple sausage ragu’ recipe (also included, below) that was one of my first recipes to post.

And I still love it.

But unlike, many of you, I’d never made a ragu before, so this was a revelation to me.

However, as time has gone by, my cooking journey has improved both my skill set and my knowledge.

And I’ve enjoyed re-creating some tasty simple dishes for midweek meals.

But I’ve also enjoyed challenging myself by exploring different ingredients or cuts of meat like oxtail or beef cheeks.

So, my recent discovery of Italian sausages has been another revelation.

Italian sausages

Forgive me if you’ve discovered these beauties already.

But if you haven’t, this is why it’s worth hunting down salsiccia.


Salsiccia is the generic name for different types of fresh Italian sausage.

They’re usually made with minced or ground pork meat, pork fat, and different spices.

But different regions have there own take on them.

Their sausages (I’m not including dried or cured) differ depending on what often grows well in that region.

Which means, you’re spoiled for choice, really.

So, here are a few examples of what you can expect in terms of flavours.

Note: I have give examples of a special type of Italian sausage but these flavours can be found in your classic sausage to.

… which I use in the Italian sausage ragu with penne recipe.

Regions of Italy

Source: My World Guide


A little background.

Luganega is a special variety of Italian sausage.

It’s a rustic sausage made from pork shoulder (both lean and fat), made throughout Italy as one, long coiled sausage.

Some parts of Italy may use in it meat from the cheek or neck of the pig.

While others use pork shoulder, or rib meat as well.

Fattier versions are meant for stewing; leaner ones for grilling.

Luganega from…


Lucania was a historical region of Southern Italy, now known as the Basilicata region.

This classic sausage is seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.


 You’ll find are seasoned with sea salt and a hint of garlic.


The Southern region of Calabria is the home of the chilli.

So, these sausages are seasoned with sea salt and a hint of chilli.


In Northern Italy, in the region of Lombardy, their version is flavoured with fennel seed and garlic.


Luganega made in Treviso (in the Veneto region) is a bit more slender than that made in other areas.

It’s seasoned with cassia, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, mace, and nutmeg,

Italian sausage ragu with penne

So, what’s the big revelation of Italian sausages to my cooking and especially ragu’s?

The two key things are the lovely coarse, rustic sausage meat they use.

It also oozes quality meat.

And the perfect balance of meat content to fat, making them full of flavour.

Which leads me to the seasoning… not too overpowering and yet enough to bring loads of flavour to your dish.

But there’s a small problem.

I have yet to find genuine Italian sausages in a butchers or a supermarket.

They will have some called ‘Italian’ but that’s often to do with the seasoning combo’s.

However, you can find them on specialized Italian online shops.

And I’d recommend giving it a go at least once, just to see what you think.

But not to worry if you don’t have time to go online.

That’s why I have included my original ragu recipe which is still a winner in our family.

And of course you can switch out the Italian sausages in this new recipe for some good quality saussies.

Buona mangiata!

Italian sausage ragu with penne

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword easy, penne, ragu, sausages
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost £


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped finely
  • 6 Italian-style pork sausages with casings removed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional; if you want that smoky flavour)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 600 g passata
  • 400 g penne pasta
  • Grated parmesan


  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and cook the onion and celery until softened (approx for 2-3 mins).
    Add the sausage (breaking the sausage up into the pan), rosemary and garlic (and paprika if you want a smoky vibe) and cook for 3-4 mins or until the sausage is browned.
  • Add wine and allow to bubble for 2-3 mins and reduce by approx half then add the passata.
  • Season, increase the heat to high and bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for anywhere between 20 mins to 1.5hrs (it depends if yiu're in a rush but the low and slow will be tastier)
  • When ready, cook your penne pasta and serve with the ragu and some grated parmesan.


inspired by: Delicious Mag

Simple sausage meat ragu

The best sausage meat pasta recipe to whip up
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost £


  • olive oil
  • 6 pork sausages
  • 2 sliced onions
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (or whatever desired heat you like)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 x 400 g chopped tomatoes
  • splash of red wine (optional)
  • grated Parmesan for serving
  • chopped parsley for serving
  • 300 g Pappardelle or Rigatoni pasta (I like getting the fresh pasta but when in a rush, the dried pasta is just as good)


  • Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan pan and sweat off your onions and garlic.
  • Cut the skin of the sausages and pinch small pieces of sausage into the pan and cook until browned. Stir in a pinch of salt.
  • Add chilli and fennel and cook for around 1 minute.
  • Pour in the tomatoes and a splash of wine and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • During this time, cook the pasta as directed on the packet. (Don't forget to add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta 'juice' into the pan with the meat etc simmering – adds a bit of flavour and sauce-y-ness)
  • When the pasta is done, strain and add it to the pan with the ragu. Stir in so the sauce gets all over the pasta.
  • Serve with chopped parsley and Parmesan.