23 February 2011

Pasta Sauce

Sweating onions
I have, unsurprisingly, no recipe for pasta sauce, but I like my sauce thick and with veggies. I use it for pasta, for lasagna, or just to eat with crusty Italian bread.  I start by sweating an onion - usually yellow onions are my onion of choice. They aren't too sweet. This is three relatively small onions, so one large or two medium would work. More would be good too.
Carrots added
Next I add grated carrot. This is a great trick to add some veg and some thickness to the sauce without anybody really noticing. This is 3 medium-ish carrots grated on the small holes of a box grater. More would never hurt. 
Spices and garlic added
I add dried basil and dried oregano (palm-full of both) to the mixture after the veg are softened. I also add a few cloves of minced garlic to the sauce base. 
Sliced mushrooms added
I then add sliced mushrooms. I either use white or crimini mushrooms. They add texture and flavor - I think this is the reason that meat is unnecessary in this pasta sauce - you just don't miss it. 
Wine added
I add red wine at this point, about a cup to a cup and a half, depending on what I have available. I don't drink a lot of wine (I'm a beer girl), but I purchase the small four packs of dry reds (usually Australian reds like a syrah) and these are easy to keep and are the perfect amount for this application.  I do this after the mushrooms have cooked enough to release their liquid and then start to dry out a bit. Then they and the onions and carrots soak up all the wine. I cook this until the wine is about gone. 
Tomatoes added
I add two 28 oz. cans of tomatoes, usually one diced and the other crushed and bring up to a good simmer - then reduce to slightly bubbly. This simmers on the stove for a few hours - lid on mostly and stirred every so often. I usually add a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar as I'm near the end of simmering - I wish I knew the science of what it does, but it's subtle and adds a extra layer of good. I almost never eat the sauce the day I make it - I usually make it during the weekend for later in the week, but typically I start using it on Monday - can't help it. This makes enough for at least two applications. 
Yes, this takes a little time, but it's well worth it to have a rich, flavorful sauce to use for anything during the week. It also freezes very very well. So make a big batch, freeze half (I freeze in gallon zip top bags) and use half this week. 

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