I attended a great cooking class by Gina Stipo at our local Central Market earlier in the week. Gina is an Italian American chef who lives in Tuscany and teaches visitors about food and wine from the region. Her excellent website is http://www.eccolacucina.com/. Tuscan food is known for its use of seasonal ingredients and relies on fresh produce for its flavors.
There were four dishes on the menu. The pasta dish was a duck ragu which I couldn’t consume since I have stopped eating meat. In the class the freshly prepared pasta was served with some cooked holy trinity (celery, carrots and onion) with herbs and spices for the couple of vegetarians who attended. While the pasta was excellent the overall dish was a little bland. In all fairness, Gina was not catering to the herbivores in this class. However, she did mention that there is a sauce called the Pomerola which is a vegetarian ragu that is delicious and is described in her cookbook. Needless to say I bought the cookbook and tried the sauce.
Three points before we dive into the recipe below. One, I almost never follow recipes exactly. And two, because I did not have all the ingredients so I winged it (see point one earlier). Lastly, “Ragu” as Gina explained is a slow cooked meat sauce, since the recipe below does not involve any meat, it can technically not be a ragu.
Anyway, the sauce turned out to be nice and flavorful with a deep red color. It tasted like it had olives in it. At some point I will try Gina’s recipe and will post my results. Meanwhile here is what I cooked.
Olive Oil for Cooking
1 Carrot – peeled and finely minced
1 Celery stalk – finely minced
1/4 mongo yellow onion – finely minced (see here for a chopping technique. You will need to go over the chopped onion with a knife
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
3/4 cup red wine
1 can of no salt added diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper
2 Tbsp of dry chopped basil
Some grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1. Heat 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan.
2. Reduce heat to medium.
3. Add the celery, onion, carrots (holy trinity) and garlic and saute.
4. Add the red wine once the onions start to turn transparent. DO NOT let the vegetables brown.
5. Cook off the wine.
6. Add the can of tomatoes and bay leaf.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Reduce heat and let it cook for 90 mins, stirring occasionally. You may want to add a little water if it gets too dry.
9. Add basil 5 mins before turning the heat off.
10. Serve over pasta with some grated parmigiano reggiano on top.