Making Sugo for the Winter
It strikes me that I haven’t tasted tomatoes as delicious as this year’s since we moved to Italy in 2013. As a matter of fact, the melons and peaches have also been superior this summer. There’s still everything to play for in terms of the Olive harvest of course which won’t begin until early October, but the signs so far are looking fantastic and we can’t wait to taste the first sips of the 2016 raccolta.
August is a busy month for us, spending as much time as possible outside, hosting family and friends, working around the edges and of course preserving the very best of the summer’s fruit and vegetables to sustain us over the winter. We spent last weekend making ‘sugo’, a tomato based sauce that is a staple in these parts and can be used to make classic ragù, melanzane parmigiana, or spiced up as aglione or amatriciana or for the children a super quick pasta sauce that is packed full of vegetable goodness.
You are still in time to make this in the UK if you can find the right tomatoes – they should be heavy and ripe, full of perfume and with a firm skin for best results. Typically 10kg of tomatoes plus 3kg of soffrito (an even mix of finely chopped white onions, carrots, celery) makes around 25-30 jars (300g) of sugo. Please let me know if you would like a more precise recipe!
Then to the olive oil. You could be forgiven for thinking that if you are cooking with olive oil that you can drop the quality level right down and spend less… these choices are pretty personal, but if you’ve bought the very best tomatoes and you are making all of the effort to carefully peel and chop your vegetables, slow simmer for hours, blender or mouli, why would you use a tasteless or low quality oil? To me, that doesn’t make sense. For all of our sugo for this winter, we used ‘Il Classico’ from Frantoio De Carlo in Puglia. This oil is perfect with vegetables, it has a rich, luxurious texture, is high in polyphenols (great for longevity of the sugo) and has enough spice and sweet almond character to compliment the ripe tomatoes.