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This is a healthier version of a Sicilian recipe for pasta sauce.  It's easy, full of hidden veggies, and freezes well.  You can use it as-is or with meatballs for spaghetti, on lasagna or even pizza; wherever tomato sauce is called for.  The secret ingredient, figs; it gives it a sweeter, milder flavor and is a nutritious addition.

Spaghetti Sauce, Sicilian Style Plus

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper
2 large stalks of celery, trimmed
1 large or 2 small carrots
1/2 cup white cooking wine (Note #1)
1 28-oz can tomatoes, best quality you can afford, drained, reserve liquid
1 12-oz can tomato paste
hot peppers to taste (optional)
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped basil, OR 1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 Tbs chopped parsley, OR 1 Tbs dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf
teensy pinch of cinnamon
10 dried black figs (Note #2)
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced, (optional) OR 1 small can mushroom pieces

Place oil in a large pan (Note #3)  over medium heat.  When hot, add the chopped onions and sauté until soft, stirring frequently.

While onion is cooking, cut the green pepper, celery and carrots into pieces and place in your food processor. (Note #4)  Chop fine.  Add to onion and continue to sauté, stirring frequently. 

When veggies start to stick and brown, add cooking wine and the liquid from the tomatoes.  Cook until liquid is reduced to almost none.  Stir in the tomato paste and reduce heat to lowest setting.

Place together in food processor the seasonings including the garlic cloves, the drained canned tomatoes and the figs. (Note #4)  Process until you have a fairly smooth puree.  Stir into the sauce.    If you are using mushrooms, add them now.

Simmer, covered, on low, low heat, stirring from time to time, for at least 20 minutes.   Don't let it stick or it will become bitter.  If sauce is too dry, add a little cooking wine.

You don't even have to tell 'em about the healthy additions. 


Note #1:   The recipe needs the wine for flavor, but you can substitute water or chicken broth if you must.

Note #2:   If you don't have any figs on hand, you can substitute 3/4 cups raisins or even 10 to 12 pitted prunes, but figs are better. 

Note # 3:  A non-stick Dutch oven or chicken fryer works fine.  If you don't have a good, large non-stick pan, use heavy stainless steel.   It's probably a better choice not to cook acidic foods in aluminum.

Note # 4:   If you don't have a food processor, you can chop a little at a time in a blender, or even put through a grinder.

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