October 19, 2009

Salsa di Pomodoro

For every cold and rainy day there is a soup...and a tomato sauce.

I had just finished a second helping of minestra di ceci (chickpea soup) and I had the rest of the afternoon to myself. I knew that I wanted to make sauce. Red, of course. It is known for it's comfort reaching properties in these parts. A staple of the humble Italian kitchen. Eaten over many a variety of pasta...gnocchi, pizza, polenta...etc...

My aim was to try something a little different. I set about prepping the soffritto...what a beautiful word, soffritto. About 1/4 cup each of diced red onion, celery and carrot. I coated the bottom of a 4 quart pot with extra virgin olive oil. Over a low flame I gave the onion a good go until it was wilted and slippery on the wooden spoon. I then added in the celery and carrot. I let that go for about 15 minutes, stirring here and there. Paying mind, much mind. I didn't want to walk away and fall prey to distraction.

Off to the side I had two cans worth of milled tomato at the ready. I added, gave a good stir, a few good pinches of salt and a nice bit of crushed red pepper. Then, contrary to my norm, I added in two bay leaves. Not an ounce of garlic, parsley or basil was to be found.

For 45 minutes, the lovely concoction bubbled and reduced. I tasted here and there, only adjusting the salt slightly. The resulting sauce was sweet and deep in not only flavor but texture.

At dinner, over a half pound of ziti I revealed the ingredients to Roberto. He was a little thrown off guard...'No garlic?' he asked. 'No garlic.' said I. 'No parsley?' he asked. 'Nope.' said I.

The absence of garlic, the usual hint of parsley, it was not missed. Although Roberto did say that a small clove of garlic wouldn't hurt next time. 'I agree. You know I love me some garlic.' I said.

I very much appreciated the simplicity involved in making the sauce. Another Lidia's Italian Table recipe. Not only did we, Roberto and I, find it delicious, it inspired discussion about future iterations.

The following day, at lunch we put another pot of water on to boil and I extracted a box of ditalini from the cupboard. This sauce lends itself nicely to this size and shape pasta. After properly dressing the pasta with sauce in the pot, I transferred to bowls and added another healthy dose of the salsa di pomodoro on top. We sat down to our heaping bowls with spoons at the ready. Another good shake of crushed red pepper and a not so shy sprinkling of parm. A nice change of pace for us, pasta for lunch. We usually save the luxury for the dinner hour.

With our constitutions reconstituted, we set off to finish our Saturday errands, in the cold and rain.

Salsa di Pomodoro

You'll need:

2 large cans plum tomatoes, milled
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cups diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cut diced celery
2 dry bay leaves
Crushed red pepper

Start by coating bottom of 4 quart pot with extra virgin olive oil. Add onion and saute until onion is wilted. Add in carrot and celery. Saute for about another 15 minutes. Stay close, stir often, keep watch. At this point add in the tomatoes and give a good stir. Season with salt and a good pinch of crushed red pepper, stir. Finally add in the bay leaves and stir. Let this simmer for a good 45 minutes. Stay close, stir often, keep watch. It will reduce nicely.

Taste as you go and add salt to taste. Be sure to remove bay leaves at the end.

Share with loved ones.


  1. nice sauce tracy! isn't that interesting that the lack of garlic and parsley was not too missed! I love the look of ditalini, so cute!

  2. Ditalini is a treasure. There's something about eating pasta with a spoon that just makes me happy.

  3. Interesting recipe. I do wonder what it tastes like without the garlic and the parsley. I'll definitely try this!

    Thanks for commenting on my blog and by the way you can try the madeleine recipe in a muffin pan. It works fine!

  4. Mrs. B...it taste different, but good different. But a clove wouldn't hurt. :)
    I'll be trying your madeleine recipe soon...

  5. Tasty! I've always loved the word soffritto...

  6. denise...we finished every ounce of the sauce. It was especially good when we used it for pizza.

  7. yum. i'm about to experiment with a pizza, but no sauce today. i'm attempting roasted cauliflower and caramelized leeks as main ingredients. wish me luck...this is all new.

  8. That sounds like a winning combination. Once, without sauce, I created a mushroom pesto to spread on some homemade pizza dough. A quick saute with shallot, garlic, parsley and extra virgin olive oil. When cooled, I coarsely chopped in the food processor and added a bit more oil. Improvisation makes the best pizzas.

  9. Nice nice nice! I'd love a slice or two for lunch today.

  10. buona! I always add a pinch of sugar to mine: gets rid of the acidity in the tomatoes. I also pass my sauce through a food mill...makes the texture velvety and smooth.

  11. amelia...we use sugar from time to time as well. I love the food mill. I don't know what we'd do without it.

  12. I found your blog from Bon Appetite Hon and I am in love! Looking at your pictures makes me feel like I'm looking over your shoulder as you're cooking- so fun! I'm looking forward to seeing what you make next.

    And the ditalini look very cute!!

  13. christinecancook...thank you so much...what a lovely thing to say. :)


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