When I was in university, I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad at a small art school in Florence, the Renaissance city of legends like Michelangelo, Dante Alighieri, and Leonard Da Vinci. Being constantly surrounded by medieval art, history, and incredible food was a wonder in itself; but it was the experience of living in Florence – not just touring it – that was truly incredible. Among the many professors that I studied under, Tina was my favorite. She taught the history of Italian cinema, drawing from her years of experience working with Francis Ford Coppola and other Hollywood directors, on masterpieces such as The Godfather III and Dead Poets Society. She was a timeless beauty with impeccable taste in fashion, and when we asked her where she got her wardrobe, she responded simply “h&m.”
Not only was Tina a wonderful professor, storyteller, and film editor, but she was also a brilliant cook. Out of the many beautiful memories I took away from my semester abroad, the recipes that she left with our class are some of my most treasured learnings. After all, isn’t food the way to the heart? Over the next few weeks, I’d love to share some of her recipes with you, straight from the heart of Florence, Italy.
What is Sugo Finto?
Sugo finto literally means “fake sauce” in italian, because there is no meat in this sauce. But if you want to learn how to make pasta sauce from scratch, there is no better place to start, because sugo finto is rich with the slow simmered flavors of tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Traditionally, sugo finto is a labor of love because you have to finely chop up all the vegetables. If you have a food processor and some canned tomatoes, this recipe will be done in no time. I made this recipe mostly by hand cutting the vegetables, but I did cheat a bit by grating the carrots. Would Tina be disappointed with me? I hope I never find out.
Serving Size: 4
Prep Time: 5 – 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Utensils: Food processor (optional)
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750g ripe tomatoes (or good canned tomatoes, drained and chopped)
2 cups beef or vegetable stock
4 cloves garlic
A few leaves of basil or dry oregano
Salt and pepper (to taste)
- If using fresh tomatoes, skin the tomatoes and chop them up, then set aside.
- Finely dice the rest of the vegetables, then sautee in ½ cup of olive oil
- Gradually add in the stock, half cup at a time, allowing the vegetables to absorb the liquid and simmer.
- Finally, add the chopped tomatoes and allow the sauce to simmer for 20-30 minutes until it has thickened. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve with your favorite pasta.