Battuto and the Aromatics? Is this an ancient Greek boy band? I love the image, but no. Battuto is the foundation of flavor in many Italian soups and sauces. Aromatic vegetables and herbs provide a sweet and savory essence to be built upon.
The basic recipe consists of carrots, celery, and onions in a 1 : 1 : 2 ratio by weight. For example, 5 ounces of carrots, 5 ounces of celery and 10 ounces of onion which are then chopped and sautéed slowly in olive oil or butter. It is best to cut the vegetables in small uniform pieces, about 1/2 inch, so they cook evenly.
Basic Battuto: carrots, celery, onions Cook in olive oil or butter
The length of cooking time is dependent on the dish you are preparing. As a base for marinara sauce, I like to cook the vegetables for 15 minutes so they begin to caramelize and take on a deeper flavor. I learned this recipe for tomato sauce from my Italian friend, Rosie, and you can find the recipe in Not Mom’s Marinara. To make battuto as a base for soup, saute the aromatic vegetables with olive oil or butter in a soup pot for 5 minutes until they are just soft and then begin adding other ingredients.
The technique of using aromatic vegetables and herbs as a flavor base is found in many cuisines: the French call it mirepoix, the Spanish call it sofritto, and in Cajun and Creole cooking it is known as The Holy Trinity.
I am so thrilled that I learned this technique. It makes me feel like an Italian chef, and the flavors are so satisfying! I love experimenting by adding other aromatics such as parsley, leeks, garlic, sweet pepper, paprika, basil, and other fresh herbs. There are many possible combinations; as long as you have some olive oil and an onion, you’re off to a good start. I promise this simple procedure will add much more flavor and umami to your Italian cooking.
Enjoy! Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this technique. Is this new to you or do you already use aromatics in cooking? If so, what are your favorites?