Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Doubling Down on Sauce

Left to right, tomato sauce and Bolognese sauce

This week my grocery list included the ingredients for mirepoix or the “trinity” — onions, celery and carrots. Because it’s winter and Persephone Farm isn’t doing any farmers’ markets right now, I’ve been getting produce from a grocery store. (Although, I still have plenty of onions in my root cellar!) Grocery-store produce just can’t compare to Persephone’s fresh-picked taste and overall goodness. Also, stuff I get from the store doesn’t last as long in my fridge, so to get the most for my money, I use the produce I buy quickly and in more than one meal.

Since I needed carrots and celery for cannelloni, I decided to make Bolognese and tomato sauce, too. I hadn’t planned on making both sauces on the same day, but I started to get out the ingredients for the Bolognese (a savory tomato sauce with ground pork and beef) and realized it’d be silly not to make both sauces at once. They both start with the trinity, so if I was going to chop up celery, onion and carrots for one recipe I figured I might as well do it for both.

Mirepoix - onion, celery and carrot
I usually don’t get out my Cuisinart food processor for chopping small amounts, but since I was doing large quantities I knew it would save time. I was following Lidia Bastianich’s recipes. But I did tweak the Bolognese recipe. I doubled the amount of mirepoix and crushed tomatoes, while keeping the amount of meat the same. I also mixed a little beef broth concentrate into to the water the recipe said to add every so often to keep the sauce around the same level.

Huge can o' tomatoes
With the intent to make sauce, I picked up a huge can of crushed tomatoes from Costco, where I go every few months to stock up on things such as toilet paper and dish detergent. (I normally don’t buy much food from Costco since we don’t eat a lot of processed food.)
The tomato sauce finished cooking first. The Bolognese cooks for two to three hours, so I’d just give it a stir every once in awhile and add broth as needed.
The Bolognese turned out perfectly. It was meaty and rich. We could have skipped the gnocchi and just eaten it with fresh-baked bread and grated cheese. We’ll put both sauces in the freezer and cut off chunks as needed to sauce fresh pasta or spread on pizza crust. So I saved time by making both sauces at once — and money by not letting produce go to waste. This also means that in the future we’ll have delicious, healthful meals with a slow-cooked taste in the amount of time it takes to defrost the sauce and cook pasta. Double the sauce, double the bonus.
The Bolognese simmered for three hours

Lidia's Bolognese


  1. I agree with Randi! I have a silly question. I would love to make a bunch of sauce all at once too, but not eat it all at once. How do you freeze your sauce so that you "cut off chunks"?

  2. Hi Jen, I just put it in a container in the freezer, take it out and use a big, sharp knife that's been run under hot tap water for a minute to cut off a chunk. It usually breaks off pretty easily. But be careful since it can be a little slippery. Then I usually zap it in the micro for a few minutes and it's ready.

  3. I love the step-by-step photos you've been adding lately!