Student Suppers: Easy Sausage Ragu

Easy Sausage Ragu with Lemon Zest

Each week I try to cook something new. Mostly this is because I love exploring new recipes, but this is also to help give me ideas for recipes to develop in the future. Usually this is a recipe that has peaked my interest in some way, with the idea that I’ll take a small something away from it and then move on. However, sometimes, but only sometimes I try a recipe that, once I’ve done tweaking it, is something that makes it into our weekly rotation as something we enjoy regularly. This is the case with a sausage ragu recipe I found in the September issue of BBC Good Food, which I’ve played around with to make a wonderfully, deceptively rich and satisfying weeknight pasta supper. Why use two pans to make a sauce when you can just as easily use one?

Easy Sausage Ragu
How To Make Easy Sausage Ragu

There are two important recipe notes I discovered adapting this recipe. First, use the very best sausages you can find. I get mine from the butchers at the end of my road, and they’re absolutely brilliant – when I tried this with supermarket sausages, it just did not have the richness that makes what is actually a very simple dish rather special. Second, please don’t try to double it or otherwise scale it up; it’s a weeknight treat for two with a good bottle of red to share. I tried making a bigger batch so I could freeze some, but again, it just lost that richness.

How To Make Sausage Ragu
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Easy Sausage Ragu

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian


This easy and surprisingly rich sausage ragu is delicious stirred through chunky pasta shapes before being finished with a generous showering of freshly grated parmesan.


  • 1 Onion
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Light Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • 2 Sprigs Rosemary
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
  • 3 Pork Sausages
  • 1 x 400g (14 oz) Tin Tomatoes
  • 200g (7 oz) Penne or Rigatoni Pasta Shapes
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 5 tbsp Milk
  • Zest of 1/2 Lemon


  1. Peel and finely chop the onion. Heat the oil in a medium large saucepan over a medium heat, and gently fry the onions with a generous pinch of sea salt until they’re soft, and only just starting to brown.
  2. Finely chop the needles of the rosemary sprigs, and add them to the pan along with the crushed garlic and the chilli flakes. Fry for a further minute, before adding the meat from the sausages, skins removed.
  3. Fry the sausage for about 5 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it starts to fry. Keep going until the sausage has started to brown; don’t worry if you think things are burning and sticking to the rest of the pan, all these delicious brown bits will become part of the sauce adding a lovely flavour.
  4. Add the tomatoes and turn the heat down to low. Scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan into the sauce, and leave it to simmer, blipping away, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pan of salted water as per the packets instructions.
  6. Measure the milk into the tin the tomatoes came in, and swill it around to pick up any lovely residual tomato juices. Add it to the sauce along with the lemon zest. Season the sauce to taste with more salt and a generous amount of black pepper.
  7. Drain the pasta well and stir it into the sauce before serving in warm bowls with lots of parmesan and a bit more black pepper.