Pink Sauce for Pasta

When I first read the words ‘Pink sauce’ on a menu in an Italian restaurant, I assumed this must be an American invention, an American variation, particularly because many pink sauces feature vodka – not exactly the most Italian of liquors.  Researching it, however, I discover that the sauce does indeed originate in Italy – though relatively recently: the 1970s. 

I also questioned the vodka for, as we know, cooking evaporates the alcohol and leaves only the liquor’s base taste; which, in the case of vodka is close to no taste. But it turns out that the vodka in a traditional pink sauce helps to break down the tomato and meld its taste with the soffritto.

But, having said all that, my pink sauce has no vodka. Yours, of course, may include it any time you wish!

What you need

6 tablespoons butter
Equal amounts of finely chopped onion, carrot and celery, enough to make about ½ cup
2 1/2 cups imported Italian tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream

What you do

Make a soffritto with the celery, carrots and onions. Usually – and because I love using a knife – I would chop these vegetable. But this recipe calls for a very fine chop indeed and therefore it’s better to use a food processor.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the soffritto.  Simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables soften but don’t let them brown.  Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 30 minutes. Put the combination through a food mill and return to the saucepan

Add the cream and cook until heated through, about one minute.  Season to taste.