Sicilian Sugo Finto, Sucu Fintu Sicilianu, what’s the origin of and how to make it

The Sicilian “Sugo Finto” with potatoes is a traditional sauce that mimics the richness of a meat ragù but without the meat, using potatoes and other vegetables for substance and flavor. This dish is a testament to the ingenuity of Italian peasant cuisine, particularly in Sicily, where it has its unique characteristics. The sauce aims to create a “meat effect” without the actual meat, relying on specific spices characteristic of the Sicilian Mediterranean tradition to evoke the desired flavor profile.

Wild fennel seeds, a common ingredient in Sicilian sausage, play a significant role in this recipe. The starch from the potatoes, which are left whole, contributes to the consistency of the sauce, enhancing the faux meat texture.

Here’s a detailed recipe for making this delicious sauce:


  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 liter of tomato passata or crushed tomatoes in the can
  • 1/2 glass of red wine
  • A handful of wild fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. Finely chop the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, fennel seeds and chilly in a large pan and heat with some olive oil until they start to turn golden.
  3. Add the chopped carrots and celery for more or less one minute.
  4. Add the tablespoon of tomato paste, pour the red wine in the pan, and let it evaporate completely.
  5. Add the potatoes, and tomato passata to the pan.
  6. Let the sauce simmer until it thickens and the vegetables are tender, adjusting the seasoning with salt.
  7. Meanwhile, cook your pasta of choice in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
  8. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce in the pan for a couple of minutes to combine.
  9. Serve the pasta with a sprinkle of pecorino cheese if desired.

This recipe celebrates Sicilian creativity and resourcefulness, using simple ingredients to create a rich and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed with various pasta shapes.

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