Wednesday, August 15, 2012

YOUR Favorite Pasta Sauce

Making your own pasta sauce is very simple, and the "recipe" can be varied in so many ways that you really can't mess up.  There are no set ingredients or amounts of this and that ... you just use what you like.  My kind of recipe!  I know that the idea of not having a structured recipe can be scary, so I will give it some structure.  Remember, it's YOUR sauce ... make it the way YOU like it!

You will need:

  • Tomato Puree; this can be canned or fresh, the amount is based on how much pasta you are making so for the sake of having a "recipe" to follow we'll say 3 to 4 cups.
  • Your favorite diced veggies; suggestions - carrots, celery, green pepper, onion, zucchini, yellow squash, mushroom, garlic, maybe you like it spicy so add some chili pepper - Let's say about 2 cups
  • Herbs; you have options here too, perhaps some herbs are too strong for you or you just don't like them.  The basics are parsley and basil (for me anyway), but you can also use an Italian Seasoning blend.  About a teaspoon or so depending on how strong you want it ... remember though, dried herbs tend to be stronger than fresh.

 Make It:

You have two options here, slow cook or quick cook.  Let's start with the slow cook method:
  • Place all ingredients in a crock pot or stove top pot and simmer on low until veggies are tender and flavors are blended ... saving the herbs to stir in last.  Pretty simple!
And now the the quick cook method:
  • Melt 2 T of butter or use your favorite cooking oil (such as virgin coconut oil) in a pan over medium low heat. 
  • Saute veggies until tender.  Start with the firm veggies first (like carrots) and add the softer/more delicate ones closer to the end (like mushrooms).  A hint on this step ... garlic becomes very bitter if over cooked, so add it in a little later.  Also, remember that we want to gently saute the veggies not fry them, so make sure to control the heat.
  • Stir in the tomato puree and simmer over low heat until warmed through.
  • Add herbs, simmer for just a few minutes more then toss with pasta.
  • If you need to thin your sauce, use a little of the cooking water from your pasta ... it will help it retain it's richness.
  • Puree in blender or food processor if you do not care for chunky style sauce.
Now, in case you were wondering, here is what I put into my sauce:
  • 1 large carrot, 1 medium green pepper, 1 stalk celery, 1 small onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 large mushroom, 1t. Italian Seasoning (I didn't have fresh on hand) and 1 pound of browned ground beef - 3 1/2 c. tomato puree.

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