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X Italian Sauces
Basic "Red" Pasta Sauce with Tomato Paste (Southern Italian style)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Any time
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe)

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1 1/2 cups tomato paste (3 cans of tomato paste -- 156 ml or 5.5. fl oz each)
1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped (optional)
3 cups water
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dry basil (optional)
1 teaspoon dry oregano (optional)
1 teaspoon hot red chillies (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Stewing meat:
Pieces of veal
and/or lamb
and/or pork
and/or fresh Italian sausage
home-made meatballs

For garnish:
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped


1. Heat up olive oil.

2. Saute garlic till golden.

3. Add pieces of meat and saute for about 8 minutes.

4. Add canned tomatoes (if using). Simmer for about 6 minutes.

5. Add water.

6. Add tomato paste. Mix well.

7. Add spices and herbs.

8. Simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes.

9. Remove stewed meat and place in a large serving platter.

10. Remove basil.

10. Cook and drain pasta.

11. Place pasta in a large bowl. Toss the pasta with about 1 cup of tomato sauce (reserving the reminder).

12. Place pasta in individual plates. Garnish with fresh basil or fresh parsley. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on each bowl.

13. Serve warm.

14. After the pasta has been eaten, bring out the salad and stewed meat.


To make "real" Southern-style tomato sauce one would have to can their own tomatoes in the fall, and use one's own cans to do the sauce. My mother does and her sauce is truly out of this world. But as I don't do any canning I have to use what is commercially available. The end result is not as good (Not even half as good!) as the real thing, but that's life. When my mother runs out of home-canned tomato sauce, she uses the recipe attached to this entry. Actually, that hasn't happened for years -- possibly since the 1960s. Back then few first-generation Italians did any canning. Certainly none of my relatives did. Most used store-bought tomato paste, added water, meat, spices and herbs and that was it. Prior to World War II this style of sauce was often called "u suc". Italian-Canadians still call it "u suc" but nowadays those living in Casacalenda refer to a similar style of tomato sauce as "al ragu." ..... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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