Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Archive Recipe of the Week: Tomato Sauce with Root Vegetables

The Archive Recipe of the Week is finally back! No excuses. No explanations. Let’s eat!

When I made this sauce for pasta a couple years ago, I was so impressed by this great, flavorful, healthful use of the late-winter bounty of root vegetables. I used to subscribe to a winter share from a CSA* and had lots and lots of vegetables that needed a delicious home.

And delicious this sauce was and still is. In fact I was surprised all over again by how good it is. What I have found out since that first try of the recipe, however, is that packing finely chopped or shredded vegetables into spaghetti sauce is nothing new. Some moms and grandmas I know have always done this to trick their kids into eating more vegetables. Blanketing extra vegetables in a long-cooking sauce not only makes more palatable vegetables for the faint of heart, but also makes for an even more tasty sauce. One of my friends insists that her grown children have been asking for her secret spaghetti sauce recipe, but she won’t give it to them, fearing their reaction when they learn that they had been tricked throughout their childhood.

I really like the earthy flavors contributed by the carrots, parsnip and rutabaga in this sauce. If you want to hide these particular vegetables on your kids, you might want to try a smaller dose and replace the missing bulk with another can of diced tomatoes. I also like the richness brought in by the red wine, but if you don’t want wine in your sauce, you could replace it with more water.

This winter has been a rough one, and we’re all ready for spring, but I hope you won’t give up on winter vegetables just yet. This sauce is really a fabulous celebration of what might be left from the last of those warm days so long ago. And it will warm and comfort you the way only a rich tomato sauce can.


*While I no longer subscribe to the CSA, I still like to support the farm and can get great vegetables from there as well from other great growers in the area at local markets.



Tomato Sauce with Root Vegetables
Adapted from Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman

The amount of added salt needed will likely depend on the amount already present in the canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Taste the sauce and adjust for salt as you like it.

1 medium carrot, peeled
1 medium parsnip, peeled
1 small to medium rutabaga (or half of a large one), peeled
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
¼ cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
1 head garlic, about 10 medium cloves, separated, peeled and left whole
1 ½ cups water
1 cup dry red wine (I used a Cabernet-Merlot blend)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste if desired
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
cooked pasta of your choice for serving
grated Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Coarsely chop the carrot, parsnip, rutabaga and onion. Place them in a food processor fitted with a chopping blade and pulse until very finely chopped, but not completely pulverized. Remove any larger chunks of vegetables and cut finer by hand if desired.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the finely chopped vegetables and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the garlic cloves and cook, stirring, one minute more.

3. Stir in the water and scrape up any browned bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pan. Add the wine, tomato paste, tomatoes, bay leaves, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

4. Cover, reduce the heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 2- 2 ½ hours, or until the vegetables are very soft and practically melted into the sauce. Taste for salt and other seasonings and adjust as desired. Seek out, remove, and discard the bay leaves. Serve with hot cooked pasta of your choice and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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