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Veg Ragù (Meatless Meat Sauce)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Mezzi Rigatoni with Veg Ragù

Many months and years went by (gulp!), and dozens of posts, recipes, jams, focaccias, canning, pizzas and cakes since that day when I made the most classic of meat sauce for the last time; and also since I committed this other sin for the purpose of the blog, about which I now refuse to talk.
I know that this improper, heretical new entry, and vegan (!), more than one person will refuse to call it ragù, but who am I to blame? Obscurantist controversies don't really suit me, and in my resume, I confess, I too can boast a past as culinary fundamentalist, which, however, used to give me quite a few migraines in this stars-and-stripes land dominated by the horrors (or strokes of genius) of fusion cuisine. So today, of the restrictive philosophy of the days when I used to believe only in buffalo mozzarella, San Daniele prosciutto and pachino tomatoes, I decided to keep only the (semi-)fundamentalist ethics of pizza, whereby the combination pineapple&ham (otherwise known as Hawaiian pizza) to this day gives me intestine hives.
I digress, as always, but this is basically one of the subtle pleasures of a self-managed blog...
Ragù, we were saying. These days I've learned that the word comes from the French ragoûter, that is to say "whet your appetite". So, technically, even what I'm now submitting to your sacrosanct criticism, is a ragù with all the trimmings. Because it really whets, with its expanded fragrance and the ruby red color that will stick to your ladle.
And I call it ragù because it must be made with no rush on Sunday morning, or in the peace of a whole available afternoon; and because it contains within itself the same thick and reassuring idea of when you were six and used to come back home after school, knowing that you'd to find the table already set, and ten to one there'd be pasta with tomato sauce for lunch.
Be patient if this time the meat ran away; and who cares if I can't settle the culinary fundamentalists; it'll mean that I won't invite them for lunch, but then, I don't think they'd like to sit on the floor anyways. Or, to make up for it, I'll call it poor boy ragù, or better yet poor girl ragù, to show off my English and encourage a little compassion.
But take a piece of bread and dip it in while it's hot, and then tell me if by any chance it wasn't worth the effort.

Today Pasta

Veg Ragù*
for 6 people

onion 1
carrots 2
celery 1 stalk
green olives 50 gr
raisins 120 gr
salt-packed capers 25 gr
double concentrated tomato paste 2 tubes
red wine 1/2 glass
fresh parsley and basil 1 bunch each
olive oil, salt, pepper, red chili pepper, water as needed

Mezzi Rigatoni with Veg Ragù

*I grabbed the recipe from the famous folder Forum Cucina Italiana, but I hadn't saved the name of the author, I apologize. If anyone knows who he/she is, do tell. Thank you for your understanding.

Finely chop the onion and sauté for a few minutes in a little olive oil. Add carrots and celery cut into small cubes and cook for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile chop (you can do it also with a food processor, or rather, better with a food processor) olives, raisins, and capers rinsed from their salt. Add them to the vegetable mixture along with plenty of minced parsley and basil, red chili pepper to taste, salt (a little) and pepper. Stir and cook for a few minutes, then add the tomato paste diluted in red wine and a little bit of water. Cook the sauce to medium-low flame for about two hours, stirring occasionally and adding some water if it boils down too much.
Use it as usual, in the classic sandwich with meat sauce, still hot, or as a sauce for the pasta shape that suits you best: rigatoni, penne, mezzi rigatoni, mezze penne, smooth or ribbed, maccheroni, spaghetti, shells or fettuccine. Long live pasta, long live meat sauce, the veg one even more!


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