his sauce is a meatless ragu following the same techniques as the classic meat sauce. It's a wonderfully rich topping for pasta. The base is a mixture of carrot, onion, and celery in equal parts called soffritto. The secret to this sauce is letting it almost burn; the onions begin to caramelize and it brings a special flavor to the sauce.
Here's the recipe!
1 pound ripe tomatoes or peeled plum tomatoes
1 each chopped: carrot, celery stalk, onion (soffritto)
Small handful of fresh basil or parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, optional *
One-half cup red wine
6 tablespoons olive oil
Finely chop the carrot, celery stalk, and onion. Sauté them in oil for 15-20 minutes. Add wine. Raise the heat and let the wine evaporate. Add tomatoes and basil leaves or parsley. Salt to taste. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
* If garlic is used, add it to the soffritto at the last minute. Let it sauté for one minute and continue with the recipe.
To make the sauce richer, soak some dried porcini mushrooms in cold water until softened. Add the drained chopped mushrooms to the sauce. Filter the soaking liquid through a paper coffee filter and save to add to soups and sauces.
Italian cooks and chefs alike use this sauce as a base for cooking beef and chicken. When the soffritto is golden color, add the meat. Brown the meat and continue with the recipe. Serve the meat as a second course and the sauce on the pasta as a first course.