Friday, February 18, 2011

Fresh Tomato Sauce - Quick and Flavorful

The simplicity of preparing fresh tomato sauce amazes me. This magical creation comes together in a very short time. In approximately fifteen minutes, pasta with vegetables is on my dinner plate, ready to comfort me and my tastebuds.
Knowing that once a large pot of water comes to an active boil, pasta usually takes about eight minutes to cook. At the same time, cooking chopped vegetables and adding a few more ingredients turns into a sauce for my pasta.
It is only minutes for my fork to be twirling around in the pasta in my fresh tomato sauce.
Being prepared to cook is the secret for enjoying the process of creating fresh, delicious food in minutes.

What you will need for preparing this recipe:
Large pot with matching lid
Large frying pan
Chopping board
Kitchen knife
Wooden spoon
Large slotted spoon
Measuring spoons
Pot holders
Can opener
Large serving bowl
Large serving spoons

Cold water to fill the large pot about 3/4 full
Olive Oil, regular not extra virgin. About 3-4 tablespoons.
Onion, one small or half of a large onion
Garlic, 3 cloves chopped
Peppers, one green or red pepper cut into small pieces. (Assorted colors make a nice presentation.)
Zucchini, one small size cut into small pieces
Cherry tomatoes, one cup or more, washed and cut in halves.
Tomato paste from a tube, 3-4 squirts from the tube
Canned tomatoes with no salt, 28 oz. size
Pasta, one pound box of personal choice variety
Kosher salt, 1-2 teaspoons
Sugar, 1-2 teaspoons, determined by personal taste.
Dried herbs, one teaspoon or less of any of the following:
Oregano, basil, tarragon
Red pepper flakes, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons depending on personal taste.
Optional: chopped fresh parsley for garnish.

Fill the large pot with cold water and put the cover on the pot.
Put the covered pot of water on stove burner and turn heat up to medium-high.
Wash and cut all vegetables.
Open the can of tomatoes.
Have all dry herbs available to measure.
Put the large frying pan on another stove burner and put the olive oil in the pan. Turn stove burner up to medium-high. In a minute when olive oil is heated, add chopped onions and stir around with the wooden spoon.
Add some of the Kosher salt to the cooking onions to help release their moisture and keep stirring.
Add the chopped garlic and all the chopped vegetables. Keep stirring the mixture.
When the vegetables look softer after a few minutes, add the tomato paste and keep stirring with the wooden spoon for another minute.
Add the canned tomatoes and keep stirring the sauce. At this time add some cold water to half of this can and add to the cooking sauce.
Add the dried herbs, more Kosher salt and sugar. Keep stirring the sauce.
Turn the heat under the sauce pan to low heat.
Carefully taste the sauce and adjust seasonings with more salt or sugar (canned tomatoes may have an acid taste.)

When the pot of water has large bubbles, add the box of pasta and stir with the slotted spoon.
Cook pasta for about eight minutes, taste a cooled piece of pasta for a bit of firmness. If soft, but still firm in middle, transfer the pasta from the pot by spoonfuls and put into the fry pan of tomato sauce still cooking on low heat.
The liquid from the cooked pasta will thicken the tomato sauce. (Always put pasta into sauce, not sauce over pasta say the experts.)
Depending on the amount of prepared sauce and amount of pasta, you have an option to add a bit more of the water from the large pot that the pasta cooked in to thicken the tomato sauce even more. It is a personal choice for the thickness of the sauce.
Gently blend the pasta into the tomato sauce carefully to not break the pasta.
Transfer the mixed pasta and tomato sauce to a large serving bowl to bring to your dinner table.

Serving Options:
Grated cheese of choice can be added to your sauce at serving time. Or, have grated cheese in a bowl on the dinner table for individuals to add on their own plates.
Fresh, chopped Parsley spinkled on top of the Fresh Tomato Sauce gives a truly clean, fresh look to your sauce creation.
A drizzle of Olive Oil on top of your pasta adds more flavor.
You will experience a smooth, burst of flavor in your mouth from the freshness of this dish.