Indulge in a deceptively meaty, veggie-packed tomato sauce with a flavourful soffritto base, aromatic herbs, and a touch of red wine, perfect for your favourite pasta.
About this Recipe
By: Silvana Lanzetta
The best tomato sauce for me is a recipe called “fake sauce” (sugo finto). This simple, humble, yet unique and flavorful recipe has always intrigued me. I mean, why is it called “fake”? What’s the secret behind this captivating name? Well, let me share a little story with you. When I was a kid, my aunt explained to me that the sauce is called “fake” because it gives the illusion of containing meat, but in reality, it’s made entirely of vegetables—nothing more!
- Sparkling Lambrusco
- Montepulciano DOC
- Colli Maceratesi Bianco
- Chianti DOC
Best Pasta Shapes
So, when someone takes a bite, they’re fooled into thinking they’re enjoying a meaty sauce. But, surprise!It’s just a cleverly crafted veggie concoction that happens to be the best tomato sauce ever.
For a while, I assumed that this “sugo finto” was a less impressive version of the ultimate Italian sauce: the meat ragu, which is the king of all sauces. However, I soon realised that this delightful vegetarian creation has a culinary identity all its own, deserving respect and appreciation like any other recipe.
Even without meat, this harmonious blend of flavours and aromas brings together the best of vegetables and herbs, from carrots to the incredibly fragrant basil. And let’s not forget the visual appeal of this dish! Bursting with vibrant colours that range from orange to red, it’s like enjoying a sunny summer day, no matter the time of year.
Enjoy this delicious tomato sauce as much as you want! This recipe is rich in fibers, lycopene, and calls for extra virgin olive oil, which is a source of healthy monounsaturated fats. It’s essential to use these fats in moderation to support heart health.
- Proteins 8% 8%
- Carbs 50% 50%
- Fats 42% 42%
You know, to truly savour the best tomato sauce ever, it’s crucial to pick the perfect tomatoes. Trust me, San Marzano tomatoes are the way to go! These beauties boast an incredible flavour, super low acidity, and minimal seeds. Grown in the Campania region near Mount Vesuvius, they thrive thanks to the ultra-fertile volcanic soil and ionised sea air.
But fair warning, quality like this doesn’t come cheap! While San Marzano tomatoes might be a bit pricey, I promise they’re worth every penny. If they’re just not in your budget, no worries! You can still use your favourite canned tomatoes and reduce the acidity by adding a pinch of bicarbonate at the end of the cooking process. Your sauce will still taste amazing!
I just have to mention, there’s really only one oil you should use for this recipe—extra-virgin olive oil. Trust me on this one!
What really sets this tomato sauce apart is the magical soffritto! It’s all about frying those three veggie superstars: carrots, onions, and celery. Now, while the classic soffritto calls for equal amounts of each, this recipe features a whole lot more onions. Why? Because we’re going for a sweet and aromatic flavour that’ll knock your socks off!
Oh, and don’t worry about a perfect chop here. Aim for coarse, irregular pieces to mimic the texture of a meat ragu. It’s all part of the charm!
Now, some folks like to add garlic to the mix. While not super common in Italian cuisine, it’s totally cool for this recipe (and a few others, too). As for the onions, I highly recommend using red ones. They pack a serious flavour punch, which is just what we want to make this sauce unforgettable!
You know, one thing that really sets this recipe apart is the use of two fabulous herbs: parsley and basil. Here’s a little trick for you: try tying the parsley with cooking twine and tossing the whole bunch into the pot. This way, it’ll release all of its amazing flavour—especially from the stems. Just remember to take out the bundle after cooking.
Now, as for the basil, this fragrant herb needs a bit of special treatment. Since basil tends to lose its aroma pretty quickly, make sure you add it raw right at the end of the cooking process. Trust me, timing is everything here, so wait until the very last moment possible to sprinkle in that fresh, aromatic basil.
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4 portions 1x
- Diet: Vegan
- A can of San Marzano tomatoes
- 70 grams of carrots, chopped
- 200 grams of onions, chopped
- 70 grams of celery, chopped
- 100 ml of red wine
- a small bunch of parsley
- 5 basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by preparing the vegetables for your tomato sauce. First, thoroughly wash the vegetables. Next, peel the carrot, remove the onion’s outer layer, and eliminate any tough filaments from the celery.
Proceed to coarsely chop the vegetables ensuring a chunkier texture for a more rustic appeal in the sauce.
- Secure the parsley into a bundle using a piece of cooking twine, ensuring it remains intact during the cooking process.
In a saucepan, warm two to three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over low heat. Incorporate the chopped vegetables and parsley and allow them to soften, creating a stew-like consistency. Maintain a low flame and stir frequently to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan.
Once the vegetables have fully wilted, pour in the red wine, raise the heat and let the wine evaporate.
Incorporate the tomatoes. Opt for high-quality San Marzano peeled tomatoes, which should be crushed with a fork beforehand.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper to your preference. If desired, substitute chilli pepper for traditional pepper.
Allow the sauce to simmer over low to medium heat for approximately half an hour, or until the tomatoes have reduced and thoroughly blended with the other ingredients.
Remove the sauce from heat and remove the parsley. Then mix in freshly chopped basil leaves. Combine the sauce with your choice of cooked pasta, along with a tablespoon of pasta cooking water.
Finish the dish with a generous sprinkle of top-quality Parmigiano Reggiano, and enjoy your rustic pasta creation.
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In certain variations of this recipe, pork rind is incorporated to enhance the sauce’s flavour. If you choose to include this ingredient, ensure the rind is thoroughly cleaned of any hair (your butcher can assist with this). Add the rind to the pan prior to the vegetables and allow it to fry slightly before proceeding with the recipe as directed.
Additionally, some renditions incorporate garlic. To include this option, finely chop 3-4 cloves and incorporate them into the soffritto stage of the preparation.
The ideal pasta shapes to pair with this tomato sauce include rigatoni, penne, fusilli, and conchiglie.
For an elevated flavour experience with this sauce, blend a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese into the pasta and cooking water. Toss well to ensure even distribution, resulting in a beautifully coated, scrumptious pasta dish.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: slow cooking
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pasta. tomato, celery, carrots, onions, parsley, basil, red wine, vegan, weekday meal, easy recipe, cucina povera