See the article about this recipe here.
2lbs Italian sausage*
24 Meatballs (homemade or frozen)**
1 Yellow Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced***
1/2 spicy pepper of your choice, minced (we like Tabasco peppers off of our bush) (optional)
1 cup red wine
1 28oz can whole peeled ****
1 bottle (optional)
1/2 Stick Butter
1 can Black Olives
Fresh Basil to taste (I recommend 8 to ten leaves) thinly sliced
8-10 slices Provolone cheese
2 teaspoons Fish Sauce (optional)****
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
You can do this recipe start to finish in one pan. I recommend using a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed oven safe pot.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat pot over medium heat. Add olive oil. Brown meatballs a few at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Drain on a plate or other flat surface lined with paper towels. You just need to brown them at this stage, they’ll get coooked through later on in the process.
Brown the italian sausage in the pot. Remove sausage from the pot and drain over paper towels.
Add the butter to the pan. Add the onions and garlic to the pot. You want to sweat the onions and garlic, but not put too much color on them. Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir. After about a minute, pour in the wine to deglaze and stir for all your life. You want to get as much of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan as possible. Toss in the spicy pepper.
Add in the passata (if you’re using it) and the San Marzano tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes by hand directly into the pot. Work out some frustrations. Imagine coworkers (and that old Kids in the Hall script). Be sure and rinse the cn out with some water and add that to the pot as well. You paid for it, get your money’s worth.
Add your meatballs and sausage back into the pot and bring to a simmer. Taste and season as necessary. Drain olives and add to pot.
Turn the heat off.
Don’t forget to add the fish sauce (if using) and stir it in. Sprinkle the basil over the top. Place the sliced provolone over the top of the casserole, cover, and bake for 40 mins.
Remove lid and bake 10 more mins.
Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 10 mins. Taste, adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve.
* – we use sweet Italian because of the boys, but use whatever you like
** – I’ve done this with mixed results using frozen store bought meatballs. Homemade meatballs are probably worth the effort, but Costco makes one we can accept. That being said, if you have the time…
*** – From what I have read, most canned tomatoes labeled as San Marzano aren’t actually San Marzano tomatoes. Find a brand you like, and go with those. I like Vento which I can get at my local grocery store, or the brand linked above, which I prefer and can get at Costco.
**** – I always forget to add this… Don’t be l like me!
This dish is super flexible as a base for dinner. You can eat it straight out of a bowl if you like (I do this pretty often). We have also served it over polenta or tossed with ziti or spaghetti. One time I even used it as the sauce/meat for a homemade pizza. The beauty of this dish is in it’s flexibility.