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Pasta Sugo Finto – Fake Sauce Pasta

Jan 11, 2016 by Gabriele Corcos

This recipe is a great example of how farmers deal with seasonality of ingredients and the enormous amount of work demanded by a functioning farm: food has to be nutritious to provide energy and comfort to a body that has spent hours working in the fields, but it also has to deliver flavor and happiness to make it all worth it.

Seasonality also imposes ingredients according to the calendar, as a real farmer tends to source all his food from the land he works on throughout the year. Last but not least some ingredients might simply end up out of stock, a hunting day might not go as planned, or (which happened a lot in the old days) farmers might simply not have the economic means to source specific and much desired ingredients.

One of the recipes I have learned when I was young reflects appropriately situations like these: what if I felt like dining on a scrumptious and rich meat sauce, but had no meat available? Farmers thought me how to “fake” it!

This sauce is called “The Fake Sauce” because it has the same ingredients of a meat sauce… but in fact it is void of it. The traditional soffritto that we use in many sauces becomes here a main ingredient: celery and carrots are cut a little chunkier to give the sauce a “stewy” feel and a texture that departs from a traditional tomato sauce and tries to get as close as possible to the much beloved “Bolognese”.

What really distinguishes this recipe is the use of young wine, ingredients usually reserved to cook meat, used here to add roundness of flavor and intensity of color. Fake Sauce is good on pasta and exceptional on polenta, it also lands itself to become a base for more complex vegetable stews in case you decide to incorporate ingredients such as potatoes, peppers, zucchini or even cauliflower… again, depending on the season.


Prep Time: 10 mins / Cook Time: 30 mins / Serves: 4-6

  • 1 lb Peeled Tomatoes
  • ½ Red Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 2 stocks of Celery
  • 1 handful of Parsley
  • 1/3 cup Red Wine
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper


1Chop Onion, Carrot and Celery and sauté in about 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until the onion starts getting some color.

2Add the wine and stir well; slightly reduce the flame and simmer until the pungent smell of alcohol is gone.

3Add the pelati and brake them down roughly with a wooden spoon, add the parsley chopped fine (reserve some for garnishing), season with salt and pepper, stir well and cook on a low flame for about 30-40 minutes.

4Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, cook the pasta al dente, strain and mix into the sauce.

5Serve garnished with the chopped parsley and dressed with some freshly grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

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