September 24, 2008
This one is a quick and easy recipe to get closer to pasta the real Bolognese way. In Bologna, fresh pasta is always accompanied with a rich and thick sauce called ragù in Italian, which in a way is more like a stew than a sauce. In this recipe, I’ll use an Italian secret to prepare a wonderful meal: we’ll use the meat of Italian sausages instead of ground meat. What’s the deal? The sausage contains spices which give a lot of flavor without the fuss!
1 pound tortellini (I used spinach tortellini)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 ½ - 2 cups unpeeled Italian sausages (veal and pork would be great)
½ red onion, chopped
½ cup red wine
2 ripe tomatoes, cubed
1 small can San Marzano tomatoes (about 13 oz), crushed
Salt, pepper, peperoncino
Olive oil (about 1 Tbsp)
Grana Padano cheese, grated for serving
First, peel the Italian sausages: we want what’s inside them. In a saucepan, sauté the sausage meat until slightly brown. Remove the meat but keep in the saucepan the grease that came out of the meat while it was sautéed. Sauté the onion, the celery and the carrots, making a soffritto. Add salt, pepper, and some peperoncino (you could use hot Italian sausages, but if you use the mild ones, you can control how spicy you make your ragù by adding peperoncino or Italian red pepper flakes). Put the sautéed meat back in the saucepan. Stir, and after a couple of minutes add the red wine. Add the tomatoes. Simmer for about 15 minutes and then add the crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Cook for about 30 minutes over medium heat and stirring occasionally.
Boil the tortellini in salted boiling water until al dente (about 5 minutes for fresh tortellini). Drain the tortellini and pour them into the saucepan with the ragù. Give a quick stir and serve with Grana Padano cheese.
When cooking with celery, always add a bit of the celery leaves, chopped. It adds more flavor. In this recipe I even put some chopped leaves on top!
Why did I call this my express ragù if it’s not ready in less than 30 minutes? Well, everything will be ready in less than 1 hour. And real Bolognese ragù takes about 4 hours!