Sardinian Spaghetti

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian fennel sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained, seeded and halved, with 1/2 cup juice reserved

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, torn

Kosher salt

3/4 pound spaghetti

1 cup shredded pecorino cheese


  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown, about 7 minutes. Push to one side of the skillet and increase the heat to high. Add the tomatoes, stirring to break them up a bit, and cook until the edges brown and the oil turns red, about 6 minutes. Stir the sausage and tomatoes together.
  2. Add the garlic, bay leaves, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes to the skillet, then scatter the saffron over the mixture. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley, 1 cup basil and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Add the spaghetti, cooking liquid and reserved tomato juice to the sausage sauce and toss, about 3 minutes. Top with the pecorino and the remaining 1/2 cup basil.