Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Last week we talked about how to roast tomatoes and garlic. "What do I do with 16 roasted tomatoes?", you might ask yourself. Roasted tomatoes and garlic are the secret ingredients to my fabulous (yes, it really is!) Homemade Pasta Sauce (Try it, you won't want sauce out of a jar ever again). I will roast 15-16 tomatoes on a baking sheet and then use them all to make a huge pot of pasta sauce. It freezes well in any size container. At the beginning of the week I will move a container from the freezer to the fridge where it is ready to heat up to put over pasta or spaghetti squash for dinner any night of the week. 

I don't have a written recipe for my pasta sauce, so I'll just tell you how I do it and try to give you amounts. Like I said, I typically make a huge pot with 15-16 roasted tomatoes, so keep that in mind if you are making a smaller batch with only a few tomatoes.

Olive Oil
1 Med-Large Onion (white or yellow), chopped
Garlic - 1 Whole Head, roasted (click here for technique)
15-16 Roasted Tomatoes (click here for technique)
1 Large Green Pepper (or red or orange), chopped
1 -2 Carrots, chopped
1-2 Stalks Celery, chopped
Handful Basil Leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp Oregano
Sea Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Red Pepper Flakes

NOTE: Regarding the peppers, carrots & celery...if I have them, I use them. If I only have one of them, I use it. This recipe is not dependent on having all three. They add great nutrition and robustness to the sauce, but are not necessary for a great sauce. Also, everything can be chopped very roughly because it will be blended in the end.

ANOTHER NOTE: Because this sauce is homemade from fresh ingredients, it turns out more orange than red. We are so used to the red sauce we get from a jar or can (coloring added) that it may seem strange at first to see the light red or orange color of fresh homemade sauce. The flavor is so wonderful that you will soon forget that the color is different.

Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan or pot and turn on medium high heat. Add chopped onion, pepper, carrots and celery. Saute for a few minutes until onions are clear. Add tomatoes (just pick them up whole off the tray and put them in the pot) and garlic (the whole roasted head, that you squeezed out). Add a couple of pinches each of sea salt and black pepper and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. (add more as it cooks if you like a bigger kick).

With your wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes; they are soft and roasted and will smash easily. Add a handful of roughly chopped basil, (if using dried basil add about 1 Tbsp) and 1 Tbsp of oregano. Break everything up and mix together. Turn stove on low and simmer 15-30 minutes.

If I have time, I let it simmer longer...just makes for better flavor. When done simmering, turn off the stove and let it sit there. The flavors will continue to meld and intensify as the heat dissipates.

When it has cooled down, scoop it up into the blender. I don't really worry about exactly how much of everything gets into each batch I blend because I pour it into a giant bowl after blending. Continue to mix one blender full at a time until the pot is empty and the sauce is now completely blended and poured into the giant bowl. Then I can mix it up with my wooden spoon, making sure that the seasoning is fully mixed in. Once it's mixed up, I scoop it into containers for the freezer.

This pic is one that was in my freezer. My hard drive crashed and I lost a lot of pictures (Yeah, I know, I should have had them backed up!) so I am now short of pics for posts that I had planned. If I wait until I make another batch of homemade pasta sauce in order to get pictures of the pot, blender and bowl of sauce, it might be a while til you get this recipe. I promised the recipe, so will make do with the pics I have.

I absolutely love this pasta sauce and I'm confident you will too. Doug and I like it a little spicy, so I add more red pepper flakes. It is so good over spaghetti squash or angel hair pasta. Sprinkle some fresh parmesan or parmigiano reggiano on top for true Italian flavored homemade pasta sauce. Mangia!

What is your favorite thing to do with pasta sauce?

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