Friday, January 26, 2018

A Different Kind of Tomato Sauce

I had to laugh when I opened the Boston Globe magazine last Sunday and read the recipe section (yes, I always do). Not because the recipe was funny, but because the author Adam Ried said up front that he had adapted the recipe from another author’s book.

Which we often do here on MLK. We do not copy any recipe line by line, and if we use a published one and tweak it (make changes due to personal preference, allergies, missing ingredients, etc.) we give credit to the original author. And often we explain to you why we made changes.

This recipe for this Sicilian Shepherd’s Pasta is one example. It attracted me because it included an interesting combination of ingredients. I changed parts of it because the original recipe included celery, and I always find that if I add celery to almost any dish, its flavor tends to dominate. 

So here is Sicilian Pasta (produced by three authors!)


4 oz. pancetta (about 3/4 cup), cut 
   into small pieces

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 Tblsp finely chopped fresh sage
3 Tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1-1/2 Tblsp minced or pressed garlic (6-7 medium cloves)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 large (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. stubby pasta, cooked (just shy of al dente, drained and hot (save 1 cup of the cooking water
2 cups whole-milk ricotta


In a food processor, pulse the pancetta until it is finely chopped and almost pasty. Add the onion, carrot, and 1 tblsp sage, and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, set over medium heat, heat 1-1/2 Tblsp of the olive oil until it shimmers (that means it’s hot). Add the meat-and-vegetable mixture and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated.

Add the garlic and the red pepper and cook, stirring, for about a minute.

Add the wine, turn down the heat to medium high, bring to a simmer and cook 2-3 minutes longer.

Add the tomatoes, bring to a strong simmer, lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens—about 15 minutes. In the last five minutes, add the remaining sage and black paper to taste.

Add the parsley and mix in. Taste for seasoning. Reserve 3/4 cup of the sauce.

Add the cooked pasta to the pot and toss to combine with the sauce. Cook until the pasta is al dente (say, 5-10 minutes). Add some of the reserved cooking liquid if the sauce seems too thick.

In a medium bowl, beat the ricotta, the remaining 1-1/2 Tblsp of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1-1/2 Tblsp of parsley.

Spread about 1/3 of the pasta mixture into a warm serving dish, in an even layer, and dot with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Repeat (twice!). Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top and serve.

The tomato sauce tastes good, but it’s the smooth creamy ricotta that provides the perfect contrast and pulls the dish together.

(For once I've given a recipe that isn't Irish--but there will be more!)

Here's a sampling of the reviews for Many a Twist:

“Plenty of puzzles with a strong feeling for life in small-town Ireland.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Connolly vividly evokes rural Ireland, and her characters seem like real human beings trying their best to navigate their lives.”
Publishers Weekly

“For fans who have gotten absolutely hooked on these County Cork Mysteries, you’ll not be disappointed with this new tale… Connolly sticks to what she knows best: How to write a drop dead awesome book that keeps readers entertained from beginning to end!”
Suspense Magazine

“Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy this cozy mystery. Shelia Connolly is a good storyteller with the ability to create an authentic atmosphere, providing hours of entertainment.” 
Seattle Book Review


  1. Sounds like a tasty recipe. I always experiment with pasta & create different tastes, depending on what I am hungry for.

  2. Sheila, yum! Just what I need for tonight! ~ Daryl

  3. It's a nice flavorful dish for a winter's night. I will say I had to smile at Adam Ried's use of a couple of terms, like the "pasty" mix of ingredients and the "stubby" pasta. But they definitely were descriptive.

  4. Fascinating. None of the usual Italian herbs and spices, but sage.

    Doesn't ricotta add a wonderful creaminess?

    1. I really liked that brand--I went out and bought another container!

  5. Looks & sounds yummy. Seems you can't have too many cooks in the kitchen.

  6. recipe sounds great. Going to try it very soon.