Monday, April 22, 2013


All of us will agree that this has been a week of tragedy and loss; in Boston, Texas and the upper Midwest. Man and nature have tried our forebearance. And as we bury and mourn our dead and our horribly injured and suffer tragic loss we seek a way to understand and comfort each other. In my world food nourishes and calms the injured, grieving soul. Recovery can take many forms and a good meal can always help.

This recipe came to me as I watched our diverse people come together to help each other; making a delicious amalgam of support for the suffering. It is what I do when there is hurt and sadness. I offer a nourishing meal.

Try this for comfort and to share...It is a dense sauce, rich and thick with healthy vegetables and fresh herbs.

Vegetable Ragout with Pasta and Basil
(makes 4 cups of rich sauce)

  • 2-3 TBS good olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery (green leaves also), diced
  • 1 leek, white part only, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium sweet red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small Roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1 can organic tomato paste (Muir Glen if you can)
  • 1/2 cup dried mushrooms (shitake or crimini)
  • 1/2 cup full bodied white wine
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4-5 TBS fresh basil, cut in chiffonade
  • Kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste 
  • Shaved Parmesan
  • Your favorite pasta 

Heat a 3 quart pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, carrots, celery, leek, onion and sweet pepper. Stir and season with a healthy pinch of salt. Turn the heat to low and partially cover the pot. Cook the vegetables for 1 hour.

While the vegetables are cooking, put the mushrooms in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1 cup of cold water and cover with cling film. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Set aside to soak. (Keep covered). After 1 hour, remove the mushrooms, squeeze our their liquid and give them a rough chop reserving the soaking water.

At the same time, raise the heat under the pot to medium high and add the tomatoes, garlic, chopped mushrooms, tomato paste, sugar and wine. Stir and gently bubble over medium for about 5-10 minutes or until everything looks thick.  Add the mushroom soaking liquid and simmer another 5 minutes or until thick again. 

Check seasonings, add S&P to taste and remove from the heat. Stir in the basil, saving a bit for garnish. Toss the sauce with your favorite paste and garnish with the reserved basil and shavings of Parmesan.