How to Cook Sausage in a Tomato Sauce Gravy

Tomato gravy in a white bowl.
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Italian-Americans on the east coast of the U.S. often call tomato sauce "gravy." Apparently it comes from the Italian word sugo, which means gravy. Sugo al pomodoro is tomato gravy, and sugo all'arriabbiata is a spicy tomato gravy. Tomato gravy, or tomato pasta sauce, is made of fresh or canned tomatoes with garlic, onion and herbs such as parsley, oregano and basil. It's a simple recipe, quickly put together and simmered until the sauce is as thick as a gravy. Italian sausages, sweet or spicy, add flavor and richness to the sauce.

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Step 1

Heat a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Pierce the sausages in several places with a fork or small, sharp knife. Cook the sausages until they start to brown, about five minutes.


Step 2

Remove the sausages from the pot and pour off the fat. Heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion to the oil and saute over medium heat, stirring frequently with a mixing spoon. After five minutes, add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Step 3

Pour the crushed tomatoes and puree into the pot with the sausages. Add the parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper to the pot. Stir to combine all the ingredients.

Step 4

Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the tomato gravy and sausages for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sausage is cooked through.

Step 5

Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with strips of basil leaves. Serve the sausages whole or sliced, with the tomato gravy and your favorite pasta.

Things You'll Need

  • Large heavy pot

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages

  • Small knife or fork

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • Mixing spoon

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 1/2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with added puree

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • 8 large basil leaves, cut into strips


If you like a more pronounced tomato taste, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar with the canned tomatoes. Try spicy Italian sausage instead of sweet, or a combination of both. Add 1 cup of red wine for a more complex taste. Add strips of bell pepper or sliced mushrooms when you saute the onions.


Stir frequently, as the natural sugar in tomatoes can cause the sauce at the bottom of the pan to burn.