Sugo finto – A meatless ragu

Rating: 3.1/5. From 25 votes.
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Sugo finto – A meatless ragu

Until recently, people in Tuscany ate very little meat at normal meals – there simply wasn’t the money and/or preserving techniques to allow it. This is a poor man’s meat sauce: the vegetables are cut finely to simulate a ground beef texture and the result is very tasty indeed.

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 10


  • 500 g (1 lb) carrots
  • 500 g (1 lb) celery
  • 500 g (1 lb) onions
  • 750 g (1 1?2 lb) ripe tomatoes, or good canned tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Large bunch of parsley
  • A few leaves of basil
  • A few leaves of sage
  • Bottle of good red wine
  • Nutmeg, salt, pepper
  • Olive oil


  1. Skin the tomatoes and chop them. Reserve.
  2. Chop the other vegetables and herbs very finely, with a mezzaluna or food processor.
  3. Cook the vegetables slowly in a good cupful of olive oil until soft.
  4. Gradually add red wine, allowing each half-cupful to evaporate before you add the next.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and allow to cook on a low flame for 20-30 minutes, until you have a thick sauce.
  6. Add plenty of freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.


Add less tomato for a different kind of sauce (more Tuscan). Use vegetable stock (or a little water) to prevent the sauce from drying out while it is cooking. This recipe will make plenty of sauce. With all the chopping involved, it is worth making more and freezing some (it freezes well).

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