Sunday, November 11, 2007

Recipe: Tomato Sauce with Celery and Mint (Σάλτσα με Σέλινο και Δυόσμο)

Tomato Sauce with Celery and Mint is for days when you want a quick meal, with lots of flavor, that doesn’t take much effort. From start to finish, this full-flavored sauce is finished in about 30 minutes.

The sauce can be used in any recipe that calls for tomato sauce, and is a good topping for all kinds of pasta. I particularly like it with cheese stuffed ravioli or tortelloni. Costco now carries organic ravioli stuffed with spinach and cheese that pairs well with the sauce; the ravioli is made by Monterey Pasta Company.

Cut Leaf Celery Leaves and StalksTomato Sauce with Celery and Mint is made with leaf celery, which is the only celery available in the village where we live in Greece. I add the celery in two stages to better accentuate its flavor. The sauce can also be made with ordinary supermarket celery, although the celery flavor will be milder if this type is used. For more information about leaf celery, go here.

Aleppo pepper is a moderately spicy red chili pepper sold in crushed flakes. Its sharp but fruity taste pairs well with Mediterranean food. I’m never without it.

Aleppo pepper originally came from Syria, near the city of Aleppo, but now may be imported into the United States from Turkey due to trade embargos with Syria. Supermarket crushed red pepper is a fine, but spicier and less flavorful, substitute for Aleppo pepper. One-half teaspoon of supermarket crushed red pepper should be used in lieu of one teaspoon Aleppo pepper.

Aleppo pepper is available from Penzey’s, The Spice House, and World Spice Merchants.

Tomato Sauce with Celery and Mint on RavioliTomato Sauce with Celery and Mint (Σάλτσα με Σέλινο και Δυόσμο)
Serve over pasta with fresh goat cheese. A watercress and curly endive salad, lightly dressed with vinegar and olive oil, goes well with pasta and this sauce.

2 cups diced onions, 1/4” dice
3/4 cup finely sliced stalks from leaf celery
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup finely shredded leaves from leaf celery
2 Tbsp. minced mint
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. sugar (optional)

Sauté the onions and celery stalks, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil until the onion starts to turn golden. Stir in the Aleppo pepper and cook for one minute. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and wine and bring to a boil. Cook rapidly for five minutes, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat to medium, stir in the celery, mint, and garlic and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add the optional sugar if the sauce is too acidic. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce is the thickness you desire. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed.


Peter M said...

This is a new sauce for me, I'll have to try this.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Delicious!!! I will give this sauce a try for sure!!!!

Laurie Constantino said...

Thanks Peter and Valli -- I hope you enjoy it. I'm working on a post now for using the leftovers -- or in my case, planned leftovers.