My Best Pasta Sauce Recipe: 'Nduja Sausage With Smoked Caramelized Onions, Tomatoes & Parmigiano-Reggiano (Traeger Grill or Stovetop)

A savoury and complex sauce that is also versatile and simple to execute.

Spicy 'nduja sausage with buttery caramelized onions, smoked tomatoes & garlic, & Parmesiano-Reggiano combine to make an umami treat that works as a pasta sauce, dip, or stuffing for peppers.

This sauce can be made entirely on your Traeger Grill or your stovetop — try it both ways to see what you prefer.

  • Author: The Peasant's Daughter
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Traeger Grill
  • Cuisine: Italian American


  • 6 Large Onions
  • 5 medium tomatoes
  • 1 lbs 'nduja sausage
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • Butter and/or olive oil


Instructions For The Traeger Grill:

  1. Set your Traeger Grill to Smoke with the lid open for 5 minutes until a fire is established. Then set the temperature to 250°
  2. While the Traeger is preheating, cut your onions in half and then slice thinly. Place onions in a cast iron pan with 1 bay leaf and a generous dollop of butter, up to 1/2 of a cup. (You can also use an equal mixture of butter and olive oil.)
  3. Slice tomatoes in half and coat with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and some freshly cracked black pepper. Place evenly spaced on a baking sheet.
  4. Slice the ends off of your head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the entire head in aluminum foil or place in garlic roaster.
  5. Place the pan of onions, garlic, and sheet of tomatoes directly on your Traeger Grill and close the lid.
  6. Every 15 minutes stir your caramelizing onions.
  7. Once the tomatoes and garlic have finished remove from heat and set aside. The tomatoes will begin to crinkle and turn brown at the edges.
  8. The tomatoes and garlic will take from 45 minutes to 1 hour. The onions will take approximately 1.5 hours.
  9. Add your tomatoes and squeeze out your garlic cloves into into the pan of caramelized onions, keeping everything still on your Traeger.
  10. Stir to combine, crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
  11. Add the 'nduja sausage and keep stirring until the 'nduja has completely melted and combined into the sauce.
  12. Taste for salt, adding some if necessary.
  13. Remove from heat, stir in the Parmesano-Reggiano until melted.
  14. Serve atop pasta with freshly cracked black pepper microplaning more Parmesano on top.

Instructions For The Stovetop:

Same as above basically. You will use your oven preheated to 400° to roast the tomatoes and garlic and your stovetop to caramelize the onions.

Times will be roughly the same on your stoveop as for the Traeger Grill.


It is impossible to give exact times for a recipe like this as every individual has their own preference for the level of caramelization, tomato doneness and etc.