Here is recipe for a great basic meat sauce that is used in making lasagna or manicotti, or you can serve it over any cooked pasta you desire. It is similar to a Bolognese sauce except the Sicilian version has peas in it. That’s right, peas. It may seem unorthodox – I once had a house guest that exclaimed, “Who ever heard of eating lasagna with peas in it?” But, I guarantee it is delicious. My grandmother swore that the peas add sweetness to the sauce. You will have to judge for yourself.
SICILIAN STYLE MEAT SAUCE: RAÚ SICILIANA
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 9 cups.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce or tomato puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup frozen peas
4-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional)
1-2 tablespoons honey or sugar
Salt and black pepper
Heat olive oil, over medium heat, in a 6-quart covered stock pot. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until vegetables become soft and onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high, add ground beef and cook until browned. Stir in tomato puree, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, basil, and nutmeg if using. Stir in honey and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary to get desired consistency. Stir in peas and cook for 10 minutes longer.