I lived in Philly for 6 years–four years in North Philly for college and 2 years in South Philly. South Philly is probably one of the only other places in the world I would leave Brooklyn for. The row houses are super cute and the value is unbelievable. The only downside really is there’s no transit (anywhere) as good as NY and I’d worry we’d need a car again. Living in South Philly, a block away from Pats and Genos (GENOS!) and a few blocks from the Italian Market, I learned a lot. I experienced my first Spice store and saw how much fresh ground spices made a difference, I ate fresh produce, waited for hours to get cheese at Claudios during the holidays, but most importantly learned how to eat pasta–with gravy.
When my friend first invited me over for dinner, her mom was making meatballs and gravy, I was thinking brown stuff. I learned quickly. Red gravy for pasta, brown gravy for meat. Now living in NY, I don’t have anyone to feed me homemade gravy anymore, so I’m on my own. For the last few years I’ve been making huge batches of gravy at a time, then freezing it in quart containers for later use. What I love about gravy is you use your basics–tomatoes, garlic and onions–and from there you play. I’ve added sausage, ground beef, veggies, wine and so much more. This time I went ahead and made a veggie version. And for the first time ever, I used fresh, not canned, chopped tomatoes (reserved from my tomato canning the other day). Here’s my recipe, but feel free to play! And if you have amazing ingredients that make the perfect gravy, please share!
Brooklyn Locavore’s Veggie Gravy (Makes about 4 quarts)
- 3 tbsp oil 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 c onion, diced
- 1 c celery, chopped
- 2 c carrots, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 2 c squash, chopped
- 2 c wine
- 14 c peeled, chopped tomatoes (or 4 28 cans chopped tomatoes)
- 1/2 c tomato paste
- 2 tbsp each chopped basil, thyme and oregano
- 4 inch Parmesan rind
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- salt to taste (I used about 2 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp agave nectar or sugar (optional)
In a large pot or dutch oven heat oil. Add garlic and onions and cook on medium heat until onions turn translucent.
Add celery and carrots, cook until tender. Add zucchini and squash; cook for 5 minutes.
Add wine, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil.
Add herbs, parm, pepper and salt and stir well. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
After about 1 1/2 hours taste sauce and adjust seasoning if needed. I added 2 tablespoons of agave nectar to cut the acid from the tomatoes and a bit more pepper to kick up the flavor. I also blended the sauce a bit with an immersion blender to reduce the chunkiness a bit.
Simmer for another hour or so to blend flavors. Remove from heat and let pot cool (a few hours or stick it in the fridge to speed up the process). Pack sauce in quart sized plastic containers (Chinese food containers!) and freeze. When defrosting gravy, defrost in fridge for about a day or so. Heat sauce on stove and add about 1/2 c water and heat sauce until evenly warmed and starts to boil a bit.