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Parsley sauce, a sugo finto recipe from the cucina povera

Salsa al prezzemolo: sugo finto della cucina povera

Parsley and passata di pomodoro.

That’s all you need to make a sugo finto recipe from the Italian-Romagnola cucina povera tradition.

Parsley sauce, a sugo finto recipe from the cucina povera

Sugo finto: the parsley sauce I had forgotten

During the quarantine, I cooked simple dishes.

It was easy to find inspiration by looking through the recipes of Sara, my grandmother, who daily made masterpieces of simplicity from just a few ingredients and always in season.

Of course, she also cooked sumptuous dishes. But most recipes she brought to the everyday table came from a natural predisposition to combine a couple of flavors to get the most out of them.

During the lockdown, I felt homesick for home and my parents. I wanted to return but couldn’t.

And because of that, I guess, thoughts drove my quarantine kitchen home, searching for a happy time. When someone cared for me with love, the future was a bright spot on the horizon.

A saving remembrance came through a plate of spaghetti served with a parsley sauce I had forgotten.

In what did you find relief or consolation? Me in food, not to say.

Fresh parsley

Tomato parsley sauce for pasta

Little pantry miracles

I suppose I could call this recipe a little pantry miracle. Just two ingredients and a perfect sauce to season pasta.
Even if it was one of my favorite condiments, I forgot it for decades.

One day I go grocery shopping, and the greengrocer asks if I need parsley. I’m about to answer no when instead I say yes, thank you.

In the drawers of my memory, I found perfectly preserved the color and fragrance of this recipe that belongs to the Romagna peasant tradition of ragù matto or sugo finto, that is, meatless ragù recipes.

Once, it was a sauce made with tomato, parsley, and beans (the ingredient that replaces meat for flavor and texture).
In the Imola area, where I was born and raised, parsley sauce is without beans or garlic. The recipe has taken on a local identity.

The recipe, also mentioned by Artusi, was typical of the Lenten season, when religious precepts dictated that people should eat lean.

Tagliatelle or spaghetti

I started making parsley sauce again to season the spaghetti.

Until I participated in the Italian television program L’Italia a morsi, hosted by Chiara Maci.

The production asked me to present a menu telling the gastronomic history of Imola. Its peculiarity is that it is part of Emilia, but the cuisine is of solid Romagna tradition.

I talked with a couple of friends acquainted with Imola cuisine, and we agreed that the widely forgotten parsley sauce deserved a place on the menu.

Talking with my mom, I found that before using dried pasta, nonna used the sauce to season egg pasta, particularly tagliatelle.
Of course, I immediately seasoned tagliatelle. I suggest you too to combine parsley sauce with fresh pasta as well.

Buona cucina, Monica

Veg ragù recipe

I tried a vegan red cabbage ragù for pasta and I found it simply amazing.

Cuisine and history

In the blog post I dedicated to cheese flan, I reported on the peculiarity of the connection between Bologna and Romagna.

Keep in Touch

Parsley sauce recipe

Tomato parsley sauce for pasta

Food Tips

If you grow a vegetable garden on the balcony, move tomato next to the parsley.
It attracts the pollinating bees to the flowers.

For this recipe, you need only parsley leaves. Freeze the stalks and use them to make a vegetable broth.

In the summer, I make a few jars of parsley sauce that I keep in the pantry for the winter.

Parsley sauce for pasta

serves 4
List of the Ingredients

tomato sauce, 200g
water, 150 ml
parsley leaves, 40-5050g
salt and olive oil to taste


Chop the parsley leaves with a knife after washing and drying them.

In a pot, boil the tomato sauce and water with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt over medium-low heat for 5 minutes before adding parsley.

Then continue simmering for 30 minutes.

If the sauce becomes too thick, add a ladleful of water.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water.

When the pasta is ready, drain and season with the parsley sauce.

Serve with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano aside.

Tomato parsley sauce

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