Since we returned from Italy we have been cooking more regional Italian cuisine at home. I saw this unique pasta dish in Patricia Wells' Trattoria: Simple and Robust Fare Inspired by the Small Family Restaurants of Italy cookbook and thought it would be perfect to try.
Popular in trattorias throughout Tuscany this hearty celery sauce was easy to make and enjoyed by the entire family. Though it might sound odd I suggest you give it a try.
Pasta With Meat & Celery Sauce
(slightly adapted from Patricia Wells)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 cup minced celery
1/4 cup ( minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 ounces ground beef
4 ounces ground pork
One 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
Several sprigs of fresh parsley, bay leaves, and celery leaves, tied in a bundle with cotton twine
1 pound pasta
Freshly grated Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
In an unheated skillet large enough to hold the pasta later on, combine the oil, onion, celery, parsley, and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat with the oil. Cook over moderate heat until the mixture is soft and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the meat, and toss to blend. Reduce the heat to low and cook about 5 minutes more, making sure to break the meat up into small bits with a spatula. Add tomatoes and stir. Add the herb bundle and cook, uncovered, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 20 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Remove and discard the herb bundle.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to the bite. Drain thoroughly.
Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the sauce and toss to blend. Cover and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes, off the heat, to allow the pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce.
Transfer to a large bowl and serve immediately, passing freshly grated cheese.