Sunday, 7 February 2016


I seem to be on a roll with Jamie Oliver recipes at the moment! Here is one I ripped out of the Sunday Times magazine a few weeks ago. You are meant to use merguez sausages as they are slightly spicy and so will give the dish a good kick - however I couldn't find any in our local supermarket and also Arabella and I don't really like spice! Instead I just bought my favourite Toulouse sausages. The recipe was pretty easy to cook and it took just under an hour in total.

Ingredients for 4 people:

16 small sausages or 8 regular size ones (they are be merguez or a flavour of your choice)
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 red onion, finely sliced
1/2 a celery heart, finely sliced (I had some celery sticks in the fridge so used a couple of them)
1kg ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
2 fresh bay leaves
1 fresh red chilli (I left this out)
1/2 a bunch of fresh oregano, marjoram and thyme, leaves picked (I used dry herbs)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
320g dried spaghetti
80g ricotta 
Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 210 C / 190 C (fan).

If using regular size sausages, twist the casing in the middle of each and cut into two so altogether you have 16 sausages. I was apprehensive about doing this as I thought the sausage meat would squirt everywhere, but it was actually a lot easier and less messy than expected!

Peel and finely slice the garlic and red onion, trim and finely slice the celery and chop the tomatoes in half.

Place a deep, ovenproof pan or casserole dish over a medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and cook the sausages for around 5 minutes until browned all over. Jamie said this should only take a couple of minutes but it took longer for me.

Add the garlic, onion and celery and cook for 10 minutes until softened.

Add the cherry tomato halves with the bay leaves. Halve and add the chilli (if using) and then add the leaves of the herbs. As I mentioned I just used dry herbs, probably not as good but I didn't want to buy some and then end up throwing most of them away. Season and toss well, then place the pan in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes remove from the oven, drizzle over a little olive oil and gently stir the mixture.

Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes cook the pasta according to the packet's instructions in a large pan of salted, boiling water. Mine took 8 minutes, drain when ready, reserving a little cooking water just in case you need it (I didn't).

Remove the sausage and tomato mixture from the oven when it is ready and add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and remove the chilli halves.

Combine together the pasta and the sausage and tomato mixture and then serve immediately, sprinkled with the ricotta, any remaining thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

I am always a little wary when I cook Jamie Oliver recipes, for some reason I believe they aren't going to turn out right. However I am pleased to admit I was wrong and in Arabella's words - this pasta dish was "mega"!! We loved the tomato sauce with sausages and the ricotta made it even more special. It was similar to spaghetti bolognese but a little "posher". It is pretty healthy too as you use so many cherry tomatoes. I look forward to making it again, maybe with a different type of sausage such as chorizo next time, I expect it will be just as "mega"!

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