Sweet Pepper-Tomato-Wine Ragu with Orecchiette

Orecchiete, meaning little ears in Italian, is one of my favorite pastas. These little ears hold sauces in their pockets and have a dense bite to them. I really wanted to feature this pasta so that you can get a generous portion of the ragu with each bite, rather than using string pasta where it can fall to the bottom of the bowl. I’ve made this ragu before in a farro dish, but this recipe is just a tiny bit different than the other one, and spicier, for all the heat lovers like myself.

For biggest flavor, top with my vegan Parmigiano.

Try to use organic ingredients when possible. Non-organic tomatoes are heavily treated, and, in my experience, never taste as good.

When shopping for tomatoes, do not choose over watery tomatoes like the beefsteak kind or the ones with a light red color. Those are good for sandwiches but tend to lack flavor and be foam-like on the inside. Choose rich colors, dark red, purple, yellow, green, heirloom, organic, vine ripened, and tomatoes that feel ripe and soft to the touch. Cherry tomatoes also work great too as they are reliably sweet and stew nicely, but it will take a lot to equal the amount you need for a larger sauce and you may need to buy the bigger tomatoes.

Sweet Pepper-Tomato-Wine Ragu with Orecchiette

Sweet Pepper-Tomato-WIne Ragu with Orecchiette
  • 1 box orecchiette
  • Ragu
  • 8-10 chopped Roma tomatoes, or another tomato variety of similar size to Roma
  • 12-14 chopped sweet peppers of different colors
  • 1 28oz can tomato puree, I used San Marzano
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 finely diced habanero pepper
  • 3-4 cloves grated garlic
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2-3/4 cup leftover pasta water or water if needed for thinning
  • 2 handfuls of fresh chopped basil or sage (I used sage, but basil works great too)
  • 1-2 tbsp salt and pepper

Fry the garlic, onion, sage or basil, habanero, and maple syrup, in 4 tbsp olive oil, on medium heat until golden brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and sweet peppers and cover with a lid, adding more oil if needed. When they start to soften, after 5-10 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients.

Start the pasta. Save 1/2-3/4 cup of the finished pasta water (after straining) and put it to the side. You may need it for thinning the sauce.

The sauce will need 45 minutes to an hour to really bring the flavors to a peak. Continue to stir it this entire time, keep it on low to medium heat, cover with the lid, and slowly add more pasta water when needed, as it will evaporate. You may not need to use a 1/2 cup, but see how it goes and taste it often. You don't want to dilute it too much but also don't want it to turn into a paste.

When the sauce is slightly sweet, bold, and the color changes to more orange than red, puree it in a blender or food processor and return to the pan on low heat for ten minutes, stirring it often.

Add the strained pasta to a skillet and toss a cup or two of the sauce in. On low heat, fold them together a few times, then pour into bowls and serve. Top with my vegan Parmigiano, recipe link in post above.

  • Total time: 1.5 hours
Sweet Pepper Tomato WIne Ragu
Sweet Pepper Tomato WIne Ragu 1
Sweet Pepper Tomato WIne Ragu With Orecchiette
Sweet Pepper Tomato Wine Ragu With Orecchiette
Sweet Pepper Tomato WIne Ragu With Orecchiette
Sweet Pepper Tomato WIne Ragu With Orecchiette

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