This month’s issue of Bon Appetit was the Winter Survival Issue for 2014 and provided me with some delicious dishes to serve up while trying to keep warm. Yesterday, I threw together my own rendition of warming comfort food for a quickly assembled Sunday night dinner.
There are a few things I’ve been meaning to make this winter that I haven’t gotten to yet: French Onion Soup & my own homemade Tomato Sauce. I still had some Turkey Tortilla Soup left in the freezer that I defrosted for the week, so I decided to spend yesterday making sauce and baking some Bacon Oatmeal Raisin cookies (recipe here) which I saw in Bon Appetit some time ago – that recipe needs some tweaking because my cookies came out hard as rocks and I don’t know if it’s my fault or the recipes, I’ll have to check with the experts (Mom, Grandma & Aunty Jen). My sauce recipe isn’t anything crazy special, but it caters to my desired taste & I really look forward to eating it once it’s simmering on the stove. For my own purposes, I only make about a quart at a time – I usually end up freezing half of it, too, since at this point in my life it’s really only me eating it – so you can double or triple this recipe if you please! I almost always make at least one of the meals with it as tomato cream sauce because it’s easily one of the most delicious things you can do with tomato sauce. It’s similar to a vodka sauce but easier to make! (I’ll add the steps for making the tomato cream at the end.)
The Food Snob’s Tomato Sauce
1/4 c. sweet or white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (your choice, I use Del Monte’s Italian Recipe) stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste (I use Hunt’s, no salt added)
2-3 very ripe on-the-vine tomatoes, or any others you need to use up (I usually clean at least the seeds out)
2-3 TBSP olive oil
salt, pepper, sugar, basil (for flavor!)
First, start with any ripened tomatoes you have lying around that you need to use up or some soft, bright red ones you might find hanging out with the vine-ripes at the market. I always start my sauce with fresh tomatoes to give it a little added sweetness and chunkier texture (I like lumps in my sauce, but nothing crazy). Start by heating the olive oil – I use half Canola, half EVOO so the flavor isn’t overpowering – in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, use just enough to coat the bottom so that your garlic and onion don’t burn. Once it’s up to temp, add your garlic and onions and stir them in to coat them in the oil. Add salt and pepper to flavor both ingredients. Once the onions are translucent and soft, add all your tomatoes, along with salt & pepper to season them, and bring the heat down to a simmer. Cover this mixture and let it ‘sweat’ for about an hour, the tomatoes will start to break down. Once the tomatoes start to look like a puree, you can add your canned tomatoes. Bring the heat up to medium and fill the can from the tomatoes about 1/3 of the way with water, swirl it around so you get all the rest of that good stuff and then pour it in the pot. Sprinkle about 2 tsp of sugar over the top and add the tomato paste. Return heat to a simmer and cover. Cook about 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, or until all tomatoes are tender. I sometimes use a potato masher to make sure none of the tomato pieces are too big.
Once the sauce is put together, making the tomato cream is the easiest thing in the world. I also like to make my own garlic bread (yesterday I got lazy and bought some frozen) to dunk in the sauce because I’m gluttonous about my pasta, with no shame. For a green yesterday I reheated some leftover broccoli rabe, but almost anything goes with this including a small portion of salad.
For the Tomato Cream Sauce: Heat 1 parts heavy cream to 2 parts Tomato Sauce over medium-low heat in a medium pot/large sauce pan, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, boil pasta in a separate pot (I used Rigatoni yesterday) to just before al dente. Add a small amount of the pasta water into your sauce before draining – this will help the sauce and pasta come together better. Once drained, add pasta into sauce and turn heat up to medium. Stir occasionally until sauce bubbles and thickens, then remove from heat and add about 1/8 c. grated cheese. Stir until cheese melts into the sauce and serve immediately. Enjoy!
For Garlic Bread: Finely chop some garlic early in the day, like when you’re making your sauce, and store it in just enough Canola oil in a small cup in the fridge. Before you put the sauce and pasta on the stove, use a kitchen brush or the back of a small spoon to spread some of the garlic oil onto both sides of slices of Italian bread. Set the oven to BROIL. Let bread stand for a few minutes so the oil soaks in. Broil about 4-6 minutes on a baking sheet in the oven or until golden brown. Sprinkle immediately with grated cheese and fresh finely chopped parsley if desired. Serve with your pasta.
I couldn’t have been more pleased with this meal last night! As I said, the cookie recipe that I was juggling while I was making the sauce needs some tweaking, but otherwise I was pleasantly full by the time I went to bed and warmed to the core! I hope this brings as big a smile to your face.
— Until the next,
❤ Food Snob