This is one of my absolute favorite recipes because it’s the perfect dish for that first cool day where it feels like fall to warm you up inside, without feeling like we’ve dived headfirst into full fall-winter cozy eats. The flavors are rich & hearty, but the heirloom tomatoes, variety of vegetables and the white wine vinegar & local sausage with white wine & fennel keeps it feeling fresh & full of summer flavor. It’s kind of like a Bolognese meets a Vodka sauce, but with no vodka involved. You gotta try it! I promise it’s delicious.
What You’ll Need:
- Dutch Ovens, Small & Large (I’m using a 3qt & 9 qt)
- A Vermont Cook Stick (Purchase at VT Kitchen Supply)
- A very small spoon for tasting (also from VT Kitchen Supply)
- A Big Tomato Harvest (8 cups cherry tomatoes & 4 large Cherokee purple heirloom tomatoes)
- 1 eggplant (cubed)
- 2 Zucchini (cubed)
- 1 Sweet Onion (chopped)
- 2 Leeks (sliced, meaty end only, once it becomes leafy stop)
- 1 big shallot (or two small ones)
- ½ c good olive oil (I’m using Brightland’s Awake)
- 2 tsp. Minced Garlic, If using fresh garlic 5 cloves.
- 1 tsp. Oregano, dried
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 4 tbs. Kosher salt in a dish
- 4 tbs. Sugar
- 1 cup White Wine Vinegar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving, do not use pre-grated or you will ruin your sauce)
- 1 lb. Meatball Mix (Veal, Pork & Beef Blend)
- 1 Fortuna’s Sandgate Sausage
- Serve with Pasta of your choice (Good pasta is best, We used il Conte Paccheri From Fortuna’s to really catch as much sauce as possible)
Feel free to add in other veggies or meat, we sometimes add pork & carrots too but didn’t have any this year.
Cook time: 3-4 hours, you can choose to cook this even slower, cooking it more only brings out more flavor in my opinion! The only important timing is when you add the cream & cheese you really don’t want to be cooking it more than instructed.
And If you don’t eat meat: You can totally skip the meatball mix & sausage and make this dish vegetarian or even vegan by substituting with coconut cream & faux-cheese. You can add vegetarian proteins but I’m not sure how fair in a slower cooked item, personally I would just double the non-tomato veggies & if you taste it & feel like it needs more flavor add some veggie bouillon.
First let’s start with the salt, I’m never going to tell you to add the salt in this recipe. Take the salt out, measure it, add a little salt periodically to either dutch oven as you’re stirring things, focusing on the tomato mix. Stick the spoon in & taste the sauce (or tomato mix) before adding more salt, do not just blindly add the salt until it’s gone. Salt is a personal preference and I can’t tell you how much to add till you like it, it’s just something you gotta taste. It also may depend on the ripeness of your tomatoes or the variety how salt will affect the flavor. Maybe you’ll end up using more or less than I recommended but 4 tablespoons is a good starting point. You might also need more or less sugar but we’ll get to that later when it’s time to add it. I’m sorry I don’t have concrete instructions for you but sauce requires a little improv, which is why I love it so.
In a Large Dutch Oven, combine tomatoes, ¼ c. olive oil, white wine vinegar, oregano, red pepper & minced garlic. Stir, cover, & simmer on low for approx. 30 minutes.
Next, chop all remaining vegetables while tomatoes simmer. Set aside zucchini & eggplant in a bowl.
Place leeks, onion, & shallot in the small dutch oven with remaining ¼ c. olive oil, heat on low, uncovered, stirring occasionally until onion mixture is golden brown & translucent. Add Meatball mix & let the meat brown for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Then place the cover on and let cook for an additional 7 minutes. Open up & stir quickly, the meat should be mostly cooked with some small pink areas. Turn the burner off & recover tightly. This will keep the meat from drying out while waiting to be added to the sauce.
Once the initial simmer is completed turn heat to medium low & uncover, letting it reduce for 30 – 45 minutes. At this point, take a hand blender (If you don’t have one you need one!) & blend the sauce until it becomes an even texture. Mix in the Meat & Onion Mixture, as well as that zucchini & eggplant. Cover & let simmer on low for another 30 Minutes.
Now while the sauce is reducing a little & cooking the veggies, take your smaller dutchoven again and add a little more olive oil with your Sandgate sausage. Cook uncovered on medium for approx. 3-5 minutes on each side, when both sides have browned a little, add the cover and let it cook with some steam for about 10 minutes. Remove the cover and check to make sure the sausage has been fully cooked. Slightly pink in the center is OK as this will continue to cook a little in the sauce. Slice the sausage (I like to do diagonal slices because it looks prettier but didn’t this time) & add it to your simmering sauce.
Now start that pasta water & get things boiling – you’re gonna get to eat this soon!
Reduce heat to low, add cream & 1 ½ tablespoon fresh oregano, stirring until well blended. Let that cook for about 10 additional minutes, at this point you want to be putting your pasta in the water too so it’s ready when the sauce is. Once 10 minutes have passed, turn the heat off your sauce, bring it to a different burner & stir in the grated parmesan. Now drain the pasta (it should be a little al dente) & return it to it’s pot. Ladle sauce from into the dutch oven into the pot until pasta is well covered, stir, cover & cook on as low as possible for 7-10 minutes to really get the flavor of the sauce into that pasta.
Serve immediately with additional fresh parmesan on top & a sprinkling of fresh oregano.
I like to pair with a light salad or appetizer because this dish is heavy! A lemony drink like my Lemon Spritz is the perfect bright summer drink! It’s just Raspberries or whatever berry you’ve got with, Thyme, Ice & Efferve Sparkling Lemonade. You can pick this up at JK Adams, I try to always keep a bottle in the house for when the mood strikes.
Allow remaining sauce to cool, portion & freeze once cool to room temperature to enjoy all winter long. I hope you & your family love this summer sauce as much as we do and make it an end of the season tradition!