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Playing Riggies with Chunky Vegetable Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed, cored and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 mild peppers, such as frying/cubanelle peppers, field peppers or a mix of red and green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup passata
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • A fat handful of basil, leaves torn
  • 1 pound rigatoni with lines or pacchieri pasta
  • EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Serves: 4-6


Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, 2 turns of the pan. Drop vegetables into the pan as you chop them; add garlic and chili pepper. Once they’re all in, add salt and pepper, and cover pot. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to sweat vegetables. Add passata, tomatoes and basil, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add rigatoni or pacchieri, and cook to al dente. Reserve a cup of salty water then drain pasta and return it to the pot. Toss riggies with 3/4 of the sauce, half the starchy water, a drizzle of EVOO and and handful of cheese. Add more water if pasta is too dry.

Serve in shallow bowls topped with extra sauce and more cheese.