On weeknights, I favor easy meals that can be cooked in a single pan. It needs to be filling. It needs to be easy to make. And it needs to be resolutely flavorful, too.
One of our favorite is this super-easy, one-pan Italian Sausages Braised in Tomato Sauce. It's intensely vibrant with the rich flavor of olive oil, garlic, herbs and vibrant tomatoes, and it is fantastically easy to make. I often serve it alongside super creamy, fluffy polenta, or, occasionally, roasted spaghetti squash.
It's a particularly versatile skillet dinner in that you can easily leave out some ingredients (mushrooms or mozzarella, for example) or substitute for other ingredients (adding chicken thighs in place of Italian sausage is lovely).
Why I recommend tomatoes in glass jars (and where to get them)
You'll note that I recommend tomatoes packed in glass jars for making this recipe. While I can my own in mason jars when I get the chance, it's never enough to last us through winter into summer again. When tomatoes are packed in glass, you minimize exposure of your food to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, like BPA and BPS that are found in the linings of canned foods.
I use Jovial Foods' organic tomatoes packed in glass jars. They're one of our long-time partners, and, having been to a few of their farms, I appreciate their adherence to quality and to an approach that is, in many ways, beyond organic. You can find their jars of tomatoes in many health food stores and natural food markets, but you can also order online like we do.
Italian Sausages Braised in Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 4- to 6-oz spicy Italian sausages
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 anchovy filets minced
- ¾ pound sliced mushrooms
- 1 diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons finely ground real salt
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- ½ pound cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 4 ounces mozzarella optional
- Preheat the broiler to high.
- Warm the olive oil in an enameled cast iron braising dish over medium heat, drop in the the Italian sausages and brown them about three minutes on each side. Remove the sausages from the pan and set them on a plate.
- Stir the garlic, red pepper flakes and minced anchovies into the pan, adding more oil if necessary. Cook them in the hot fat, stirring frequently, until the garlic releases its perfume and the chili peppers color the oil just a touch. Stir in the mushrooms, coating them in the oil, and continue to cook them until they soften - about three minutes.
- Stir in the jarred tomatoes, sea salt, and oregano. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat until the sauce is reduced by two-thirds. Nestle the sausages into the pan, drop in the halved cherry tomatoes over them. Cover the pan, and simmer a further fifteen minutes until the sausages are cooked through.
- Drop mozzarella over the tomato sauce, and set it in the oven to broil until melted and bubbly.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Toss in the basil and serve hot.
Don't like anchovies? Try adding capers instead or increasing the salt content slightly.
Skinless chicken thighs on the bone make a great substitute for the Italian sausages.