Your Favorite Marinara/Pomodoro Sauce
What's your favorite recipe for vegetarian(ish) "red sauce"? Do you prefer the long-simmered or the flash-cooked? Fresh tomatoes, or canned? Do you use red wine, white wine, no wine? Does vodka ever have a place in straight red sauces, as opposed to tomotato/cream sauces?
The recipe I've been using for years (and my husband says is better than most restaurants) came from the late Grotta Azzurra's cookbook. Very simple and quick. Mince a couple of cloves of garlic. Heat some olive oil in a big sauce pot and saute the garlic for about 30 seconds. Then drain and add two large cans of Italian tomatoes, hand-squished. (I reserve the drained liquid to add later, if necessary.) Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Then add dried parsley, basil and oregano in whatever amount you like (I use my hand as a measuring cup), as well as salt, pepper and a little bit of dried hot red pepper flakes. Let simmer while the water for the pasta comes to a boil. When you put the pasta on to cook, check the sauce for seasoning. If it's too thick for your taste, add some of the reserved liquid from the canned tomatoes. I know lots of people add sugar if the sauce doesn't seem sweet enough, but I usually will add a bit of tomato paste instead. Sauce is done by the time the pasta is. And it's really good.
I use basically the same recipe as Dena, with just a few tweaks. My better half - a true carnivore - loves this sauce and *needs* it a least every couple weeks.
Add minced garlic to a cold pan with olive oil.
Heat oil, add red pepper flakes (don't brown the garlic).
Once heated, add 2-3 large cans of diced, chopped, whole tomatoes (doesn't matter - whatever you like), including juice. I can't wait for summer when we can use fresh tomatoes...
Add dried oregano, dried basil, one bay leaf, sliced mushrooms, more red pepper, kosher salt and pepper.
Simmer for an hour or so - add tomatoe paste if you want to thicken it a bit.
Add fresh basil and parsley toward the end (at the same time, add Yves veggie ground round if you like). Add a touch of olive oil.
re: wow i'm a dog
My favorite basic sugo - besides marcella hazan's...
2 cups tomato (whatever your canned/fresh preference, can't help it - I like any from san marzano)
2/3 c of onion (chopped)
""" c of celery "
""" c of carrots "
Cook over very low heat for half an hour and then blend it all up.
Add 1/2 cup olive oil and your choice herbs - I use rosemary usually.
salt and pepper
Cook over low heat another fifteen minutes.
It freezes well or stays in the refrig 4-5 days
I like to use Glen Muir diced tomatoes (the new fire roasted version is a nice option) and tomato paste. The enamelled cans help prevent the off taste one can get from Italian canned tomatoes. I also prefer to flavor the oil with a simply smashed garlic clove or two and then remove it (if I am adding mushrooms, I saute them in the garlic (& some salt) before adding anything else). While I prefer dried oregano to fresh, but I prefer fresh basil and parsley to dried, and they are easy to get in the supermarket most of the year. I might add some prewashed baby spinach leaves at the end for color and texture. Never any sweeteners: ugh.
Marcella Hazan's butter and onion sauce from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is delicious and easy. For 28 ounces of whole canned tomatoes (best quality you can find), crushed by hand or with the back of a spoon, add 4-5 tablespoons of butter and half a peeled onion (just as it is not chopped or sliced) simmer until the fat starts to separate from tomatoes. I use unsalted butter and add salt to taste while cooking. Sometimes i'll throw in some cayenne. Obviously, this is not for vegans or those with cholesterol problems.
I was tempted to throw in some fresh basil when I first made this, thinking that sauce made without any herbs couldn't possible taste good. However, I resisted temptation and was well rewarded with some of the best tomato sauce I ever tasted. She says that people have been known to chuck the pasta and just eat the sauce. Were I not such a starch fiend, I might have tried it myself.
My favorite simple red sauce is just that - super simple. It's inspired by Hazan's approach.
For a lot (or halve it):
Finely chop about 4 or 5 shallots
Sautee in about 7 tablespoons of olive oil
When they're translucent, add two 28 oz. cans of Muir Glen Organic (mentioned below, and in my opinion the best) whole tomatoes that you've cut up with a knife and will continue to mash against the pot w/ wooden spoon.
Cook uncovered for about 25 minutes stirring occasionally.
That's it. I think the key with Italian cooking is to use the best and the fewest ingredients you can.