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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

As Ina would say 'Back to Basics'

Basic Tomato Sauce

I realize that it is much easier to buy tomato sauce than making it yourself, but I promise this sauce will make you never want to buy tomato sauce from the store again. The reason this sauce is special is because it has a hidden gem, the carrot. One would not think a carrot could make such a difference, and to be honest I am not the biggest fan of carrots, but once the sauce is finished cooking you would never know carrot was ever an ingredient. I know its easier to buy and have the tomato sauce on hand whenever you need a simple weeknight dinner, but if you make a generous amount of this basic tomato sauce you will have so much frozen sauce that you will always have it on hand. The freshness of the ingredients and ease of producing will make this sauce a staple in your household.

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe

Makes: 1 large mason jar *you can double or triple depending on how many guests or how much you want to reserve
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 28-ounce can San Marzano crushed or whole tomatoes (
3 fresh garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed
1 large spanish onion, diced
1 small carrot, peeled and grated 
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/8 cup fresh italian parsley, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a dutch oven or large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic cook until onions are transparent. Add grated carrot and cook for another 5 minutes, until carrot is soft. Add crushed tomatoes and red chili flakes, stir to combine. Bring sauce up to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer sauce for 30 minutes. 

Remove from heat and add basil, parsley, tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste. Combine well until paste becomes a part of the sauce. 

Can be served immediately, but to reserve let cool and store in jars or freeze in Ziploc bags. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

When in Rome...

Pasta e Ceci

Pasta e Ceci is a Roman classic, traditionally served on Fridays before the baccala (salt cod). Pasta e Ceci is a rustic soup with complex textures that combines chickpeas, tubetti from southern Italy and fried rosemary. I am actually not a huge soup fan, but this dish is more of a hearty pasta. Served with a meaty baguette and shaved parmesan, Pasta e Ceci is sure to become a lunch or dinner favorite. 

Pasta e Ceci Recipe
Inspired by Williams-Sonoma Recipe

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

3 tablespoons + 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, finely diced
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup tomato, diced
1 can chickpeas
6 cups water or stock
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 pound tubetti pasta, cooked al dente and drained
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan, shaved (Garnish)
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, cut into 1" lengths (Garnish)

In dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots and onions, cook until soft. Add garlic and tomato, cook for 1 minute. Add water, red pepper flakes and thyme sprigs. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add chickpeas in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

In a small saucepan, fry rosemary in canola oil for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until crispy. Remove to paper towel and salt.

Strain chickpea mixture from dutch oven into colander, discard thyme sprigs and reserve all cooking liquid. Place 2 cups of the mixture in a medium bowl, mash until smooth. Transfer mashed chickpea mixture back to dutch oven, add remaining chickpea mixture and 2-3 cup of cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of olive oil, stir until combined. Season well with salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt & pepper as needed.

Ladle into serving bowls and top with fried rosemary and shaved parmesan.