Two-Step Homemade Sausage Pasta Sauce

One of the best things you can do as a cook is make friends with your butcher. Not only can they give you tips on how to cook the meat, but they can also point out specials on good cuts of meat. And honestly, they’re generally ignored and love to strike up a conversation. My butcher makes this delicious sweet Italian sausage without the casing, which is perfect for sauce. It’s especially easy because I don’t have to cut the sausage meat out of the casings (which you can certainly still do). It’s the “cheater” way to make a good sauce that tastes like you’ve labored for hours (it’s way better than anything from a jar alone), and it only takes as long to make as your pasta.

Delicious dinner in less than 15 minutes!

What you’ll need:
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1/2 jar pasta sauce (tomato basil, tomato garlic, or whatever is in your cupboard)
1 tbsp olive oil

What you’ll need to do:

Set your saucepan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. If you get your sausage meat in the casings, cut the meat out of the casing so you only have the ground sausage. Put your ground sausage in the pan, then break apart with a wooden spoon.

Keep breaking that meat apart as it cooks. If you think about any good meat sauce, you just get little pearls of sausage instead of big chunks.

While the sausage meat browns, continue breaking apart into small pieces – you want it to be evenly distributed in the sauce. After the sausage meat is cooked all the way through, add your pasta sauce and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for a few minutes (or until your pasta is done cooking).

Let it simmer so the flavors have time to marry.


Italian Turkey Burgers

At the risk of sounding super cheesy, this one is healthy for the hips, but tastes naughty on the lips!

This recipe is one of the best happy accidents I’ve made in awhile. In fact, I just made it tonight and was so excited that I had to post about it right away. Turkey burgers have a tendency to be bland, dry, and frankly unappetizing. But at the same time, they’re incredibly healthy, so I try to eat them every once in awhile to mix it up. When I came across a recipe for an Italian Turkey Burger, I was intrigued and thought I would try it out.

This morning, I wrote down all the ingredients I would need and planned to stop on my way home from work. The recipe called for lean ground turkey, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Since the seasoning, garlic, and Parmesan are all in my kitchen staples, I knew I had them in my kitchen. All I needed was the turkey and tomatoes. After spending some time at the market gathering ingredients for dinner and other meals this week, I checked out and went home. Not long after getting home, it hit me: I forgot the crushed tomatoes. Shoot!

But then I got to thinking… crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic… that’s basically pasta sauce! And I always have a jar of basic pasta sauce in my cupboard because it’s a kitchen staple. So I swapped out the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic for my basic tomato basil pasta sauce, and came up with these 3 ingredient Italian Turkey Burgers.

And I must say, these are delicious. Not in the this-is-a-fine-Tuesday-night-meal way. But in the finger-licking, oh-my-God-this-is-amazing way. Because of the pasta sauce, these are juicy and tender, not at all dried out like a typical turkey burger. The sauce and Parmesan add a huge punch of flavor that reminds me of biting into a giant, gooey meatball – and not the healthy kind, the naughty kind.

I wrapped these in lettuce, which gave it a nice crunch and texture to offset the burger – not to mention, it’s much healthier than a bun. But you can certainly put these on a bun, as well, or even eat them plain. You really can’t go wrong.


What you’ll need (makes 4 servings):
1.25 lbs lean ground turkey
1/2 cup pasta sauce – I used a tomato basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Set a grill pan (or a large skillet) over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray.

Dump your turkey in a medium size bowl. Add the pasta sauce and Parmesan, then use your hands to combine.

3 simple ingredients. 1 amazing dinner.

Divide the mixture into four (approximately) equal parts. Roll 1/4 of the mixture into a ball in your hands, then flatten to make a patty. Place these in the pan as you go.

Because the pasta sauce is red, it gives these the allusion of looking like beef.

Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until it’s no longer pink in the center.

Wrap in lettuce, put them in a bun, or just eat it plain. Whichever way you choose, get to it! I will definitely be making these often.

Wrapped in lettuce and served with a side of spinach drizzled with a mustard vinaigrette. This unexpected Tuesday night meal was definitely worthy of a Friday.