Slow Cooker Tomato Pasta Sauce with Italian Snausages

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

This recipe is part of my 30 Day Grocery Budget Diary. To see all the posts of this series in reverse chron order, click HERE.

As you might already know, I develop recipes based on what I have on hand when I make them, so if you don't happen to have all the ingredients in my recipe, there's almost always some kind of reasonable and accessible substitute.

For instance - not everyone has fresh parsley on hand all the time (nor do I). A smaller quantity of dried parsley would work in lieu, of course, as would, say, 2 to 3 teaspoons of dried Italian herb mix in lieu of all the herbs I listed.

Some of the ingredient choices were quite deliberate - for instance, ketchup to bring that developed sweetness that's hard to achieve on a low slow cooker setting, fish sauce and Worcestershire to intensify the umami and give the sauce more depth of flavor, and stock to bring more richness, thickness and body than would water.

But if you don't have fish sauce, it's fine to just put a little more salt (like maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon). Even better to throw in a Tablespoon or two of a grated dry cheese like Parm, Romano, Asiago, or Manchego. The funkier the better to give the sauce the same kind of complexity and depth of flavor you would get from the funk of fermented fish sauce.

So many options I couldn't possibly go into all of them now, but you get the idea...

Slow Cooker Tomato Pasta Sauce with Italian Snausages
Serves 4 to 6
Time: 20 minutes active
Printable Version

- 12 oz. Italian Sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 28 oz. canned tomatoes, unsalted
- 1 cup unsalted stock
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 bell pepper, cored and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt to start
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1) Throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker.

2) Give it all a few good stirs.

3) Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, high for 4 to 5. 

As always, it's a good idea to stir occasionally if you can to help all the seasonings redistribute. 

About 30 minutes before you're going to turn off the cooker is a good time to adjust seasonings so they have time to absorb - more salt if needed, maybe a pinch or two of sugar if your tomatoes are extra acidic, maybe a dash of Balsamic or extra Worcestershire if your tomatoes aren't acidic enough...

A warning about the high setting, though - it can get fairly hot depending on how much volume and surface area you're working with. I have an 8.5 quart slow cooker, which means greater surface area and, as a result, a higher heat for the volume. At about 4 hours on the high setting, I could smell the sugars from the tomatoes and ketchup going from caramelized to burnt on the sides. This is less likely to happen if you have a smaller capacity cooker, but just to be safe, I wouldn't use high if I'm not sure I'll be back home at the 3.5 hour mark for this particular recipe because it's not that high in volume.

As a general rule, the lower the volume and/or the greater the surface area of the cooking vessel, the less the cook time.

And there you have it.

We chose spaghetti for our pasta last night. :)



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