Friday, December 09, 2005

Recipe Friday


Today, Recipe Friday is getting back to basics:
Your Basic Marinara Sauce
I know how incredibly easy it is to go buy a jar of Prego and serve that with your spaghetti, maybe even throwing it on the stove and adding some spices and various other things, but you still can’t call that sauce your own. You can actually claim this sauce is “from scratch,” and it tastes better than that other stuff to boot.
You’ll need the following potent edibles:
  • Four green onions (or half a regular onion)
  • Five cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (make sure they put that one extra virgin in there)
  • 2 – 28 oz. cans whole, peeled tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Some basil, oregano, and parsley
You’ll also need these apparatuses:
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Garlic press, if you got it
  • Can opener
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Large sauce pan (3 quart)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Skillet
  • Stove
Start, as always, but cutting things with knives:
  • Wash the green onions. Cut off the white ends and discard them, and then slice the green stalks into hundreds of little thin rings. If you are using a regular white or yellow or red onion, cut it in half, cut off the nasty knob at the end, and chop it up into bite-size morsels.
  • Wash and peel (peel and wash?) the garlic, cutting off the tiny nasty ends. If you have a garlic press, push the cloves through it onto your pile of chopped onion. If you don’t, just dice the garlic with the knife into really tiny pieces.
  • Open the two cans of tomatoes. If they are diced in the can, stop there. If they are whole, you have to cut them up into smaller pieces. The easier way to do this is with kitchen scissors. Jab the sharp end of the scissors down into the tomatoes and cut, cut, cut. Try to make sure you get all the big pieces.
To the stove!
  • Pour the 1/4 cup olive oil into the large sauce pan, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let the oil heat for a minute or two before adding the onions and garlic.
  • Sautee the onions and garlic in the hot oil for a couple minutes until everything is tender. If things start to turn brown, you’ve gone a little too far.
  • Now add the tomatoes and stir everything up. Add the lemon juice and sugar and stir things up some more.
  • Now add the herbs. How much to add is really subjective. Everything combined equaling 1/3 of a cup, especially if they are dried and crushed herbs rather than fresh, is probably too much. A teaspoon of each is probably too little. Just add whatever makes you feel comfortable.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, or low, or whatever temperature, after simmering for a few minutes, is enough to make the sauce bubble a bit but not spray all over the place. Let the sauce simmer like this for about thirty minutes, which should be plenty of time to boil water and cook whatever pasta you are serving it with. Leave the sauce uncovered so some of the liquid boils off and it thickens.
Here’s a trick you can use when the pasta is finally cooked and drained:
Spoon several ladles of the sauce into a large skillet over high heat. Then add the pasta and toss it with the sauce for just a minute or two. This makes the pasta taste seven times better for several reasons:
  1. The pasta becomes infused with the flavors of the sauce.
  2. It prevents the pasta from sticking together.
  3. Various other reasons I haven’t thought of yet.
Voila! Another great thing about this recipe is that you can create lots of different variations on the sauce. Add mushrooms if you like mushrooms or peppers if you like peppers. Brown some ground beef and throw that in for a meat sauce. Grill and cut up some sausage to toss in if you’re into that sort of thing. The possibilities, they tell me, do indeed have an end, but it’s so far down the line you wouldn’t notice.

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Image credits: Farmer's Market Tomatoes by snowriderguy, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another thing that makes a big difference is if you use fresh basil. Rip up a couple basil leaves and throw them in the sauce. Mmmmm.

My pasta box had more specific instructions on when exactly to put the basil leaves in, but I threw it out. Oops.

~Mrs. G. R.

1:55 PM  

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