Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tomato Sauce

My step-dad is a phenomenal cook, in fact he’s such a good cook that not long after we met him my sisters and I took to calling him, “Bill of all foods.” Before meeting Bill I’d never tasted chicken paparika with homemade spatzle, chicken picata, jerk seasoned meats, or haggis (admittedly, I still have not tasted haggis, but I learned of it from Bill). As an adult, I now realize that he deserves credit for inspiring much of my culinary interest. It was Bill who taught me about using spices to enhance flavors and which ingredients you can substitute for others that you are missing. One of the most important culinary lessons Bill taught me was that anyone who calls him(her)self a cook knows how to make a good tomato sauce . Sadly, it has taken me 10+ years to finally master a really good sauce. I started with the Italian Tomato Sauce (Basic) recipe from The All New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking, but over time have put my own touches on it. I think it’s finally in a form that would make “Bill of all foods” proud.

Tomato Sauce
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ C chopped fresh basil leaves
(1) 14 oz. can of whole tomatoes, with juice
(2) 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp agave nectar, or granulated sugar
Freshly ground salt & pepper, to taste

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring, until the onions are golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and basil and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce it thickened, about 10 minutes.

Ladle sauce into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the cinnamon, pepper flakes, and agave nectar and blend to desired consistency.

Serve with preferred pasta dish or cool and store for later use.

Chicken Parmigiana

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