- 1 pound ground Italian sausage
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms, optional
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cans water
- 1 cup rotini or other small pasta
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, for topping
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine sausage, onions, and carrots. Cook until the sausage has browned and the vegetables has softened, 5 to 7 minutes, breaking up any large pieces of sausage with a wooden spoon. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Meanwhile, add diced tomatoes and their juice, tomato sauce, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, basil, fennel, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper to the slow cooker. Stir in water and sausage mixture.
- Cover and heat on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. During the last 10 minutes of cooking time, stir in the pasta, cover, and continue to cook until softened. Serve with mozzarella cheese on the side.