This pasta will transport you to the rustic hillsides of Tuscany with it’s earthy yet lite vegetable sauce. Complex with many layers of flavors, the earthy base of the sauce is contrasted perfectly with the salty toppings. Inspired by the desire to cook a flavorful but vegetarian pasta, I started with the base of a classic bolognese: soffrittoa, a mixture of slowly cooked onions, celery and carrots. The other flavor profile I wanted to incorporate was puttanesca, a classic dish from Naples that highlights olives & capers. This by far one of the best pastas I have ever made on a whim. So much flavor!
To save time, soffritto can be made it advance and it freezes well.
- 1 Cup Homemade Soffritto
- 4 Carrots, peeled & chopped
- 4 Celery Sticks, chopped
- 1 Sweet Onion, chopped
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoon Oregano, dried
- 1 12oz can Pureed Tomatoes
- 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Cream or Milk
- 20 Fresh Basil Leaves, chiffonade
- 1/4 cup Fried Capers
- 20+ Kalamata Olives, pitted and sliced
- 20+ Fresh Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese, to taste
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1/2 cup+ Pasta Starch Water, as needed
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Olive Oil
- 1 Box Capellini Noodles
Start by making a soffritto, a mixture of slowly cooked onions, celery and carrots. Using your food processor, pulse the carrots, celery and onion into small pieces. Heat olive oil & butter over low-medium heat in a large Dutch oven (a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid, made of either seasoned or enameled cast iron, suitable for both stovetop and oven use). Keep an eye on the butter to ensure it doesn’t burn. Once all the vegetables are chopped and the butter is melted, add the vegetable medley to the Dutch oven. Cook the vegetables over low-medium heat until they are soft & begin to caramelize. Season with salt, pepper, oregano & garlic, and cook for another two minutes over the heat. If you’re making in advance, refrigerate for up to two days or place the mixture in a freezer-safe container and freeze once cooled completely.
Next, add the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and dried oregano to the soffritto. Mix well. Simmer over low heat for a half-hour.
Fry the capers in 2 tbsp olive oil over medium to high heat, turning often so they crisp evenly but do not burn.
Slice the basil, olives and tomatoes and set aside.
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Add salt to the pot once the water starts to boil. Reserve starch water to add to the sauce.
Just before adding the pasta, drizzle in the milk or cream. Next, mix the pasta into the sauce, adding starch water as needed. This will help the sauce stick to the pasta. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Toss with the fresh basil, olives, fresh tomatoes, fried capers and parmesan cheese.