Perhaps because of my New Jersey upbringing, I love Italian-American classics like eggplant parmesan and spaghetti and meatballs. Cheese ravioli is another childhood favorite that has followed me into adulthood.
Paco and I purchased some over the weekend, and I made a lighter version of pork ragu to serve with it. The original version of the ragu is delicious, but I thought that a sauce with a higher ratio of tomatoes to meat would be great over a pasta as hearty as ravioli. The basil added a freshness to the sauce, while the dried mushrooms gave the broth an earthiness.
This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce! It makes enough to serve six, but it will freeze well. It’s hard to make something that needs to simmer for so long in an amount appropriate for two people. Even if one of them really really likes pork.
Sausage and Wild Mushroom Tomato Sauce
2 T olive oil
2 ribs celery, finely diced
2 small carrots, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c tomato paste
1/3 lb hot Italian sausage
2/3 lb ground pork
1/2 c dried mushrooms (porcini or mixed)
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
basil, chopped for garnish
Soak the dried mushrooms in a cup of warm water.
Coat the bottom of a medium-sized Dutch oven with olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic, and stir to coat with oil. Season with salt. Let the vegetables brown at the bottom of the pan, then stir and repeat 2-3 times.
While the vegetables brown, gently remove the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquid, and chop finely. Do not discard the soaking liquid.
Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to coat the vegetables in tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to brown for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning.
Add the sausage and ground pork. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon, and brown it for 10 minutes or so.
Add the liquid that you soaked the mushrooms in, but try not to include any sediment that has sunk to the bottom of the bowl. Add the chopped mushrooms and crushed tomatoes. Fill the empty can of tomatoes halfway with water, then pour the tomato water into the pot.
Add the oregano, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir, taste, and season. Cover and simmer for two hours. Every 15 minutes, stir, taste, season, and add more water if necessary.
When the sauce is ready, serve over pasta (ravioli, in my case) with fresh basil and parmesan.