February 1, 2007

No… More… Jarred… Tomato… Sauce… EVER!!!!

Even in a household where a lot of cooking happens, when you have two working parents and two kids, at some point you have to take the easy way out. In the past, that meant using a jarred tomato sauce on occasion (usually a brand typically sold at Whole Foods that, with a little added salt, wasn't that bad).

Well, it’s probably been at least 18 months since I've had a jarred tomato sauce. Once I made a good, simple tomato sauce a few times, barring a serious physical injury to prevent me from choppping up an onion and some garlic and opening a can of whole tomatoes the night before, it just seemed silly to revert to the jar. It literally takes 30-40 minutes—and most of that is letting the sauce cook on the stovetop.

It takes a few simple ingredients and, if you want, a few more ingredients to make the flavors a little more complex. This sauce includes a little red wine, which tempers the tomatoes a bit and provides a more full-bodied flavor.

Basic Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup of red wine
  • salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the wine and let it cook for a few minutes to burn off some of the alcohol, then add the tomatoes, lightly smashing them up with a wooden spoon or, as I like to do – because it’s far less frustrating! – a potato masher.

After a few minutes, when the sauce begins to resemble a sauce, add the basil, salt, and pepper. Let it simmer for 20 minutes or so. Don’t let it cook too long or it will get too thick (yeah, I did that very thing this past Sunday).

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SPEAKING OF simple tomato sauces... A recipe in the Jan. 3 New York Times combined a simple tomato sauce with a nut pesto over some bucatini. It was called buccatini all lipari and, let me tell you, it really was something like I’ve never had.

Unfortunately, that issue of the Times is old enough that the recipe is available online only to paid subscribers or for a one-time fee. However, some other food bloggers saw it and were equally enthralled with it.

For the nut pesto, I only used one cup of nuts—pistachios, hazelnuts, and almonds (yes - gasp - no pine nuts)—instead of two, but the same amount of mint. It was still fantastic. To be honest, I’d think two cups of nuts would be overwhelming.

If you get a chance, make this.

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