It is officially spring in Firenze! I love waking up to the songs of birds, opening up my terrace door and breathing in the crisp grass-scented air. I have an obsession with deeply breathing in the air; I literally feel the seasons stream through my blood. Spring smells like fresh, wet grass— crisp and cool. So pure, like the sound of rain trickling on the canopy of a rainforest. When I breathe this air in, I feel energized. I feel new. I feel light.
Ask me to describe every season, and I will. Like I said, I have an obsession. Maybe I’m strange, but slowly breathing in the fresh air is like another form of meditation for me. It brings me peace, joy and the lightness I crave. It clears my mind of all the stresses and makes me want to sing along with those birds.
ANYWAYS, sorry for the slightly poetic moment. Today, I want to circle back to the notion of food waste. As you recall from a few of my other posts, I mentioned how I hate wasting food, especially in a time like this. I think it is very important - and also quite fun - for one to experiment and learn new ways to use the discards and/or leftovers of food. And with doing so, I can say with certainty, that you will be surprised with how much you can actually use and how much you may have wasted before!
Two days ago, as you can see here in our video, I made some roast beef. I had a strong hankering for it and had this beautiful piece of meat to use, so I thought “What the hell - let’s do it!”
To make the rich and hearty roast beef I craved so much, I used a trivet of carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and fresh rosemary and sage. Once the meat was cooked, I used the vegetables to make a dark velvety jus. To do so, I smashed the vegetable with a fork, making sure to get the garlic. After, I cooked it over medium heat and added flour, butter, wine, jam, and some broth. I allowed the jus to simmer for about 30 minutes, and then strained it. Once it was strained, I had all the discards of the vegetables leftover. I knew I didn’t want to just throw them away - because this stuff is PRECIOUS in its deliciousness - so I figured I would use it to make a sugo for pasta!
Here in Italia, there is a sauce, one of which I believe is under-appreciated, that is called “sugo finto,” or “fake sauce.” It was born as a “piatto dei poveri,” or dish of the poor, because during difficult economic times, such as the war, there were shortages of meat and/or meat was very expensive. Though it was very difficult for many individuals to buy meat, their desire for the robust meaty sugo did not subside. The only solution was to invent a “piatto” using only vegetables that resembled its counterpart. Thus, sugo finto was born, and it is my inspiration for the day!
I decided to make a version of sugo finto because what better to resemble a meaty sugo than the leftover vegetables used to make a meat dish! They have already absorbed so many of the lovely juices of the meat and have an amazing, sweet caramelization from the roasting process. To me, it just made absolute divine sense.☺️
First thing is first –I decided to leave the skins on the onion and garlic when making the roast beef trivet. I did so because the skins add more flavor. However, the skins don’t do too well with the sugo, so the first step was to go through the leftover vegetables and discard any skins. I also discarded the rosemary and sage.
Once I discarded everything I didn’t want, I placed the remaining vegetables in a container and used a hand blender to blend them into a smooth consistency. If you would like a chunkier sauce, by all means, blend to your desired consistency - there are no mistakes here! Remember, it’s all about experimenting!
In a pan, I put some olive oil and the blended vegetable. I heated the sauce over medium heat and seasoned it with salt, a pinch of sugar and some lemon juice. At this point, although I did not, I would suggest adding some tomato paste, as well. This gives the sauce a more umami flavor. I then added about a half ladle of water that I had boiling for the pasta and continued to simmer on a medium-low heat. Meanwhile, I put in the pasta to cook.
About two minutes under the cook time indicated, I transferred the pasta into the sauce and added about a half ladle of pasta water and a drizzle of olive oil. Then, I mixed (and jumped) the pasta to finish off its cooking and create a beautiful, creamy sauce.
I so happily served myself a generous plate and enjoyed every bite of it! If you would like, you can top off the pasta with some freshly grated parmigiano cheese, some fresh rosemary, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Just a few other ways to re-use the leftovers vegetables: