Garden Vegetable Tomato and Caper Sauce over Ravioli
Admit it there has been a day when you have opened the vegetable drawer and realized that there is no way your family is going to finish all the veggies inside that drawer before they go bad. Especially since by the time most of us reach this profound realization the veggies already have one foot in the proverbial compost heap and are looking way too sad to go on a crudité platter. Now the guilt sets in, you start to total up how much a few wrinkled carrots, a floppy celery heart and a mushy zucchini cost, and you feel bad. You hear your mother in the back of your mind telling you not to waste food and you lament that most recent trip to the farmer’s market to resupply an over supplied kitchen. So what do you do? You make this tasty tomato sauce that will use up all those lackluster veggies in a most tasty way!! This is a really flexible recipe the types and proportions of veggies can be adjusted to what you have in your vegetable drawer, no zucchini that’s fine, extra tomatoes ok, just toss in what you have.
This is a very tasty sauce even without the addition of the capers, but capers are a special favorite of my husband so I decided to toss some into the basic vegetable sauce. Wow! The salty pop of the capers with the creamy ricotta and spinach ravioli was so good, and don’t skip the lemon zest on top it really adds something more than a pretty color. This sauce is so tasty that I did not hesitate to make a huge pot of it and I reserved half for another night. I did not add the wine and capers to the reserved sauce so I am thinking I might spice that up like an arrabiata sauce with red pepper and extra garlic. And yes I used pre made ravioli, ok I live in Florida and making pasta here is highly challenging with our humidity and frankly it was a weeknight and the fresh ravioli from Costco is darn tasty. Plus I am Irish there is no Italian grandma from my family rolling over in her grave that I bought my pasta.
1 large package of fresh ricotta and spinach ravioli
4 small onions, diced
20-30 cherry tomatoes halved
8-10 stalks of celery with leaves, diced (I had 2 celery centers so I had like 15 tiny stalks)
3 medium carrots peeled and diced
1 zucchini diced
1 can San Marzano Tomatoes, 28oz
¾ cup of drinkable red wine
2 tbs of Italian spice blend (or your favorite blend of Italian spices)
1 tsp of salt
2-4 tbs of capers with juice
Lots of black pepper
Zest of a lemon
This is an easy recipe, just dice up all those sad little veggies toss them in a big pot with a drizzle of olive oil and let them soften up over medium heat, stirring occasionally so they cook evenly. When the onions are clear and the veggies starting to soften add in the can of San Marzano Tomatoes, if you want to you can chop up the tomatoes but just be sure you don’t lose too much of the sauce they are canned in because all that needs to go in the pot to help make your sauce. Also add in a half cup of the red wine, salt (be careful as the capers are coming up soon), and the Italian spices. Let the sauce cook down for 20-30 minutes over medium low heat, stir occasionally. If you don’t want to stir, lower the stove temperature and let the sauce cook for about an hour. When you are sick of stirring the pot pour the sauce in small batches into your food processor and give it a rip! Be careful putting hot things in the food processor, there will be steam and sharp objects. This is not going to be a silky smooth sauce it should have a little texture left so don’t over process. You will get about 7-8 cups of sauce when all is the processing is done.
I took half the sauce and returned it to my large pot and brought it back up to a soft boil while my pasta cooked. Add the remaining ¼ cup of red wine and the capers to the sauce on the stove with lots of fresh ground black pepper. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Serve the sauce on top of the ravioli with a few extra capers and some lemon zest on top. I added a light pinot noir and green salad for a totally yummy vegetarian dinner.