- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 lb hot or sweet Italian fennel sausage, casings removed
- 28 oz can tomato puree
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp ground fennel
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb penne
- 3 cups creamy ricotta
- 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
For complete recipe visit Food and Wine
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I wanted the chunkiness of tomatoes in this sauce so I added one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes in addition to the tomato puree and decreased the amount of water by half (add 3/4 cup of water instead of 1 1/2 cups). As the sauce cooks, the liquid from the crushed tomatoes helps thin out the tomato puree. Adjust the amount of water as it cooks.
You also want to be careful with the seasoning for this sauce. Since sausage is already seasoned and can be quite salty, you won’t need that much salt. You can always fix under-seasoned sauce, but you can’t fix over-salted sauce.
Make sure to skim the fat in your sauce. As it cooks, the fat from the sausage is released. Skim the pools of oil on top of the sauce.
When you are cooking your pasta, cook just until al dente. You want some firmness to the pasta since it will continue to cook in the oven.
The purpose of adding the olive oil to the cooked pasta is to prevent it from sticking to one another. If you cook the pasta ahead of time, make sure to drizzle the oil with the noodles.
When the sauce is ready, add 1 cup to the penne and toss together. Pour into the baking dish and top with more sauce and the ricotta. This recipe called for creamy ricotta, which was referring to Food and Wine’s ricotta recipe. I cheated a little today and used already made ricotta, but by all means make fresh if you so desire!