Are you craving easy comfort food right now? These baked Italian sausages with fennel, onion, and other classic Italian flavours will hit the spot.
This recipe is an easy and tasty way to bake sausages in the oven. The mellow flavour of baked fennel, roasted tomatoes, and onion plays a delicious supporting role.
I'm generally not a fan of baked sausages. They can have a tendency to dry out, become wrinkly, and get a little tough. That won't happen with this recipe. The trick is you bake the sausages and vegetables covered for part of the cooking time. Allowing the liquid to steam the sausages.
Then when ld is removed the sauce will reduce while the sausages brown without drying out. End result is deliciously plump baked Italian sausages.
For me, the fennel is an equal hero to the sausages in this recipe. I love serving this dish with pasta that catches the tasty red wine and tomato sauce the sausages are baked in. Alternatively, serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
- Chicken Stock: I often use a stock powder mixed with water when in a pinch and only a small quantity of stock is needed. Check package directions for ratio of water to stock powder. You can also vegetable stock.
- Salt & Pepper: A pinch of each to season.
- Capers: If using capers that are packaged in salt make sure to rinse them well before use. If they are in brine pat dry with some kitchen paper. You could also use 4-5 caper berries cut into quarters.
- Black Olives: I use pitted kalamata olives, but you can use your favourite black olives.
- Tomatoes: Smaller on vine tomatoes, about the size of a large egg. Egg or Roma tomatoes would also be perfect in this dish. Or use larger standard tomatoes cut into quarters.
- Italian Sausages: Use good quality sausages from your butcher, either thick or thin, your preference. You could also make this recipe using chicken sausages, or other sausages of your choice.
- Garlic: I recommend 2 large garlic cloves (3-4 smaller ones), or 2 teaspoons of crushed garlic from a jar.
- Tomato Paste: For extra tomato punch to the red wine sauce.
- Thyme: You can use fresh or dried thyme. If using dried thyme add 2 teaspoons.
- Red Wine: Highly recommended and it makes the sauce. If you can't use alcohol omit the chicken stock mentioned above and use 1 cup of beef stock as a substitute for the red wine and chicken stock.
- Onion: A standard brown onion cut into quarters, but you could also use yellow, white, or red if that happens to be in your pantry.
- Fennel: Oven roasting fennel changes its flavour profile completely. It doesn't have the same aniseed hit as it does when eaten raw. If you aren't a big fan or raw fennel, and haven't tried roasted, then I suggest not leaving it out of this dish. If you must leave it out (and I recommened you don't) you could use celery and carrots as the vegetable component.
Recommended Side Dishes
Whatever side dish you choose to serve alongside the Italian sausages, make sure it is one that you can mop up the red wine sauce with.
- Pasta: Probably an obvious pairing, but it does compliment this dish well. Select a pasta that will grab the sauce, one with a rough texture or ribbed. You could also serve the sausages on top of a plate of fettucini or spaghetti family style for everyone to help them selves.
- Potatoes: Any kind will work well, mashed, bacon fat roasted, hasselback, panfried, or parmentier.
- Crusty Bread: Keep it simple with some crusty fresh bread to mop up the sauce.
- Cabbage: Braised red cabbage goes so well with sausages.
Scroll to the bottom of the page for a printable version of this recipe.
Pre-heat oven 180°C (360°F).
Place sausages, tomatoes, olives, fennel, capers, onion, and thyme in a baking dish that has a lid. All ingredients should fit snuggly in the chosen dish.
Note: If you don't have a baking dish that has a lid, use a couple of sheets of aluminium foil to cover the dish. Make sure to fold the foil down the sides to keep as much steam in as possible.
In a jug or bowl mix garlic, red wine, stock, and tomato paste to combine.
Sprinkle sausages and other ingredients with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Pour red wine mixture over the sausages and other ingredients in the baking dish.
Using your hands or two large spoons, toss all ingredients through the sauce thoroughly.
Place lid on the baking dish (or cover with foil) and place dish on the middle rack in the oven. Bake with lid on for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes of baking remove the lid (or foil) from the baking dish. Continue baking for a further 30-40 minutes basting the sausages and vegetables a few times with the sauce.
Sara's Top Recipe Tips
Baste while baking: Basting the sausages while baking helps them to not go wrinkly and dry out.
Sausage Calculations: I make this recipe with six sausages as there are three adults mouths to feed at my place. This gives us two sausages each. Rule of thumb, allow two sausages per adult and one sausage for children. If you are using small sausages or have a family of big eaters you may want to increase the number of sausages.
Sausage Quality: It is important to use good quality sausages in natural casings for this recipe. They are the hero of the dish after all. In general sausages from the local butcher will be far superior to supermarket ones. Plus natural casings have a better texture to them than synthetic sausage casings, amongst other things.
No, never pierce or prick sausages before cooking. By doing so you are letting a lot of the flavour escape. Pricking sausages will not prevent them from bursting, and you will end up with a drier, tougher, and less tasty sausage.
An Italian sausage is generally a thin pork sausage made with fennel, anise, coriander, pepper, and other spices.
Italian sausages can be substituted with thin pork sausages, fennel and pork sausages, or other kinds of fresh pork sausages.
Thick sausages aren't better than thin, or vice versa. It all comes down to personal preferences. Thick sausages will take longer to cook than thin ones.
Baked Italian Sausages
- 6-8 Italian sausages
- 1 fennel (small) | cut into 6 pieces
- 6-8 tomatoes cut in half (small on vine tomatoes) | or 3-4 large tomatoes
- ½ cup black olives | roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon (4 teaspoons) capers | roughly chopped
- 1 brown onion | peeled and quartered
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme | just the leaves and soft parts of the stems
- 2 cloves garlic | minced/crushed
- ½ cup red wine
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons (8 teaspoons) tomato paste
- salt and pepper | to season
- Pre-heat oven 180°C (360°F).
- Place sausages, fennel, tomatoes, olives, capers, onion, and thyme in a baking dish that has a lid. All ingredients should fit snuggly in the chosen dish. Note: If you don't have a baking dish that has a lid, use a couple of sheets of aluminium foil to cover the dish. Make sure to fold the foil down the sides to keep as much steam in as possible.
- Sprinkle sausages and other ingredients with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- In a jug or bowl mix garlic, red wine, stock, and tomato paste to combine.
- Pour red wine mixture over the sausages and other ingredients in the baking dish.
- Using your hands or two large spoons, toss all ingredients through the sauce thoroughly.
- Place lid on the baking dish (or cover with foil) and place dish on the middle rack in the oven. Bake with lid on for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes of baking remove the lid (or foil) from the baking dish. Continue baking for a further 30-40 minutes basting the sausages and vegetables a few times with the sauce.Note: Basting the sausages while baking helps them to not go wrinkly and dry out.Serve: With your favourite pasta or crunchy bread to mop up the sauce.
- 1 teaspoon equals 5ml
- 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml (Nth America, NZ & UK use 15ml tablespoons)
- 1 cup equals 250ml (Nth America use 237ml)
- 4 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon
- I use the below unless specified in my recipes.