Tuscan Vegetable Pasta
Serves 8 with a full recipe, 4 with half
6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 large stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions, peeled and each cut into 8 pieces
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 small sprig fresh rosemary
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 750 ml bottle dry red wine (3 cups)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for half the sauce, 1 cup for all the sauce, plus more for sprinkling at the table)
1 or 2 pounds dried pasta, preferably spaghetti (use 1 pound for half the sauce)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Optional: toasted bread crumbs for serving (see note below)
Fit the food processor with a steel blade. Turn on the processor and drop the garlic cloves through the feed tube one at a time until each is finely chopped. Turn off the processor and add the onion pieces. Pulse until they’re finely chopped. Scrape the onion out and put the carrot pieces in the processor. Pulse until they’re also finely chopped. Scrape them out, then repeat with the celery.
Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pot or large skillet. Add all the chopped vegetables plus the sprig of rosemary, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some ground black pepper. Turn the heat to very low, cover the pot or pan, and cook for 15 minutes. Take off the lid and cook for about 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. The vegetables should be very soft and lightly browned, and their liquid should have evaporated (there will still be oil in the pan, just not vegetable liquid). Add 1/2 cup of the red wine and simmer until it’s absorbed and evaporated, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you have a flame tamer or simmer shield, this is a good time to use it. Repeat until you’ve used all the red wine. Then stir in the tomatoes and cook for another 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and check to see that it’s not burning or outrageously thick. If so, add a little water. Taste for salt and pepper.
For one pound of pasta, use half the sauce — heat it in a large skillet and set the pasta to boil in a big pot of salted water. When the pasta’s nearly cooked, add half a cup of pasta water to the skillet. Then drain the pasta, reserving a little more pasta water. Stir the pasta and parsley into the skillet and cook for another minute, adding more pasta water if you need it. Turn off the heat and stir in the half cup of cheese. Pour into a heated serving bowl and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Serve with extra cheese and toasted breadcrumbs (if you like them).
Toasted breadcrumbs: heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Stir in 1 cup unseasoned dry breadcrumbs with a little salt and pepper. Stir for a couple of minutes until the crumbs are browner and smell a little toasty.