Monday, March 22, 2010

Pasta Sauce Method

I made my nummy tomato pasta sauce last night for the first time in a long time, so I thought it deserved a little highlight.  This is more of a method than a recipe, as I don't measure a stitch for it unless you count the gallon size bag of frozen tomatoes as a measurement (more on that in a second).

First I chop up onion, mushrooms, and whatever color of bell pepper I have on hand.  I never have green pepper by the way.  I can put up with them if you invite me over for dinner, but I really don't like them.  Any other color is welcome to the party though.  Last night I grabbed a yellow one.  All three of these are sauteed together in a hot pan with a little olive oil until they are soft.

This next step can be skipped by my lovely vegetarian and vegan friends.

Next, I add italian sausage and brown it. I prefer the hot italian sausage, but use your favorite. I have even been known to use ground turkey or beef if that is what I have on hand and don't feel like going to the store. The hot italian sausage is the best in my opinion though.  You can also use it from the casings, just remove the casings and break it up in the pan.

Now here comes the tomato bit.  Every summer after I have made my fill of salsa and I have tomatoes coming out my ears I start freezing them in gallon size freezer bags.  The only prep it requires is a quick rinse and cutting off the stem end, then in the freezer they go.  Then, in those dreaded months that follow that leave us with only the most pathetic of pathetic tomatoes in the grocery store, I pull out a freezer bag of my garden tomatoes and let them thaw. They are then perfect for any soup, stew, or tomato sauce.  The skins slip right off and I crush them with my hands and toss them into the delectable party gathering on my stove or in my crockpot.  You could substitute canned tomatoes at this point, but read your labels because you would be surprised at how many canned tomatoes have corn syrup added.

I prefer my pasta sauce to be fairly thick so it sticks to the noodles better, so I also add one can of tomato paste.  Then the herbs and spices get added.  I typically add salt, pepper, italian seasoning, and some extra oregeno and basil.  My "secret" ingredient is a few dashes of cinnamon though.  Don't ask why, just try it.  It adds something.  Then the sauce is left to simmer as long as you can stand it.  I try to give it at least an hour if I can to help all the flavors meld. 

Before you serve it be sure to taste it and add additional herbs and spices if necessary.  If your sauce seems unusually acidic from the tomatoes, sprinkle in just a teaspoon of sugar or other sweetner. Easy does it though, because it doesn't take much to make your sauce too sweet.  Usually the tomato paste is naturally sweet enough that you don't need to add sugar though. 

Buon appetito! from an Irish girl that loves Italian food.

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