Tomatoes contain substances that help prevent cancer, as summarized in the previous post: Tomatoes: Sun-Dried Tomato Flavor “Cubes” (also a spread).
PASTA SAUCE (It’s Easy!)
If I had known how easy it is to make pasta sauce like this, I would have made it every year at this time when the tomatoes are at their peak of deliciousness. Now that I’ve come up with this simple recipe, I find myself making pasta sauce whenever I have half a dozen or so ripe tomatoes and a little time – 15 minutes max.
Given below are the quantities that I used to make three generous servings of pasta sauce. I like to put LOTS of pasta sauce on whole wheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice, green beans, cooked beans – you name it.
This is another recipe where exact quantities aren’t important. Cook and taste; cook and taste. That’s the best way to make pasta sauce!
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- I sometimes use more than 2 tablespoons. After all, olive oil adds great flavor and if you don’t have another source of fat in your meal, why not enjoy more olive oil in your pasta sauce?
- I generally make sure that at least an 1/8 of an inch of olive oil coats the bottom of my large heavy bottomed skillet.
6 fresh medium size ripe tomatoes, chopped
- Some recipes you may have seen tell you to skin the tomatoes. But why bother? The skin adds texture and fiber – and what’s wrong with that?
- I used the regular tomatoes (not the Roma ones). Romas have less water in them. But the extra water in the tomatoes just evaporates out during cooking
- During the winter I’ll probably switch to the Roma variety, because as compared to the other kinds of tomatoes available in the winter, the Romas tend to be less expensive and better tasting.
¼ teaspoon aleppo peppers (dried mildly hot pepper), or more to taste
- Adding a little heat to the pasta sauce doesn’t make it hot, it just enhances the flavor and punches it up a little bit.
- Aleppo peppers are ideal for pasta sauces. But you can use any hot pepper you have on hand. Of course, you will need to use less if your particular hot pepper is hotter than the aleppo pepper. So just taste and adjust seasoning.
- My aleppo pepper comes from Penzey’s (my favorite spice store) .
2 – 3 sun dried tomato flavor “cubes,” frozen
2 garlic “cubes,” frozen
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6-10 fresh basil leaves (exact quantity not important; use as much as you like), finely cut
- I use kitchen shears to cut the basil. I think it’s easier and less messy than chopping. So I take the washed fresh basil leaves and roll them tightly. Then I make fine cuts across the rolled leaves – but at an angle. If you cut across (not across at an angle) you get thin longish strands of basil. Since I want think short strands of basil (more like chopped basil), I cut across and at an angle. Just experiment and you’ll get it right.
- Note: A good quality pair of kitchen shears is invaluable.
- If you don’t have fresh basil, use a good mix of Italian Seasoning sans salt. Naturally, Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle is great, but other brands of Italian Seasoning I’ve used are fine too.
1-2 tablespoons of fresh thyme and oregano
- You can use a pair of scissors to cut the oregano (but you don’t have to roll it first).
- You don’t need the scissors for the little thyme leaves. I just cut the tender stalks with the leaves on into small snippets, and add the thyme leaves and stalks. I know that’s probably not de rigueur for haute cuisine, but it’s works – and adds fiber – so it’s fine for me.
salt, to taste, if desired (I didn’t use any)
- I like to salt at the very end – when all the great flavors have melded. Why? Because then I often find that I don’t need any salt at all!
chopped walnuts, to taste
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. When the oil is warm add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Let the tomatoes cook until they are mushy and the mixture is bubbling just a tiny bit. Be sure to stir the mixture every few minutes to prevent it from sticking to the pan. If it’s about to stick to the pan, just add a little water to keep it from sticking and continue to stir.
When the tomatoes have reached the desired consistency, add the rest of the ingredients, except for the herbs and salt; stir. The frozen flavor cubes will take a minute or so to melt.
When the pasta sauce has reached the desired temperature, mix in the basil and other herbs.
- I like to add the herbs at the end to preserve the green color and impart as much freshness as possible to the pasta sauce. So if I’m not going to serve the pasta sauce right after I make it, I just add the herbs later when I warm the pasta sauce up.
After adding the herbs, taste and add a small amount of salt, if desired.
Right before serving, sprinkle some chopped walnuts over the top of each serving.
Enjoy and be healthy!