Pasta With Meat Sauce (AKA: ragu for impatient cooks!)

STEPS 4 INGREDIENTS 9 TIME 90 MINS I call this molten pork and tomato dish pasta with meat sauce because my wife Laura laughingly stopped me naming it ‘ragu-lite’ (ragu usually features beef and pork y’see). pasta_with_meat_sauce_recipe

But it really is just as delicious as ragu… and so much quicker to cook.

This Italian beauty (the recipe, not my wife, keep up dear reader…) combines soft, slow-cooked pork with a lush tomato sauce…

… then it smothers it all over your choice of delectable pasta shapes. Nice.

Like I said, it’s kind of a cheater’s ragu!

Totally buonissimo (super-tasty), so let’s get cooking it…

Serves 2 (3-4 if used as a ‘primo piatto’ starter)

(To serve 4: simply add one extra can of tomatoes and slow-cook the sauce for longer – see step 3)

Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this link and choose ‘Save target/link as’ to save the list for later.)


200g/7oz pasta (long such as tagliatelle/fettuccini or short such as rigatoni/penne)

10 basil leaves

½ glass of red wine

400g/14oz tin of plum tomatoes

50g/1.75oz parmesan cheese (or hard ‘aged’ ricotta)


Extra virgin olive oil

2 pork sausages (preferably a variety containing herby flavor, such as British Cumberland)

½ medium onion (whole onion if small)


Deep pan/skillet with lid (for sauce)

Pasta pan


Cheese grater

STEP 1 – Wash and tear basil leaves. Peel and finely chop onion.

– Cover half the first pan with olive oil, put on medium heat, and add the onion and basil.

– Fry for 3-4 minutes (softening the onion).

– While the onion is frying, chop off the ends of the sausages, squeeze out the meat and chop this roughly.

STEP 2 – When the onion is a little soft, add the sausage meat to the pan.


– Fry the meat, stirring and chopping it further, for 6-7 minutes, until brown/grey all over.

– Throw in the wine.

STEP 3 – Throw in all the tomatoes, with their juice. Now we’ll follow traditional tomato sauce steps…

– Cover the pan and simmer for 7-8 mins to soften the toms

– When soft, squish/break the toms with a spoon, take off the lid, and simmer on a low heat.

In the case of this pasta with meat sauce recipe, we’re aiming to soften/dissolve the meat, so allow 1 hour for this sauce simmering.

After this, it should be noticeably thicker, the meat molten, and the sauce not sour at all (if still a little sour, add a pinch of sugar or teaspoon of milk).

STEP 4 – When the sauce is done, or ideally 10 mins before, boil up a kettle of water (for speed), and get your second pan on the hob, full of boiling water. Add a small handful of salt to bring out the taste.

– Boil your packet pasta as per its packet’s instructions.

Note: Cooking short pasta for 2? Always remember, one standard kettle full of water is about right. And for long pasta… double this amount and add a squirt of olive oil to stop the pasta sticking.

– When ready, drain and pasta and mix with the sauce, on a low heat, for just a minute.


Pasta with meat sauce, ready to eat…

Serve with: Grate some parmesan over each serving. And I know it’s greedy, but I love crust bread for sauce mopping.

And of course some round-bodied red wine, such as a bottle of scrummy Brunello di Montalcino.