Well . . . I decided last summer that I was going to write down what I put into every batch of spaghetti sauce, to give better inspiration to readers learning the sauce-making skill set . . . and then for various reasons I didn’t do it with the next 3 batches. But here’s another one!
This is a very basic one, meaning it tastes like good marinara sauce with nothing unusual about it. Although it makes use of in-season vegetables, I actually had frozen them before I was ready to make sauce, so this is a variant that could be reproduced any time of year.
Instructions/ingredients/method for approximately reproducing this batch of sauce:
- In a large pot, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 1/2 cups sliced Vidalia onion that was frozen and thawed. Stir, pressing spoon against any chunks of onion still frozen together. If you put the onion through the food processor’s slicer attachment like I did, some of the pieces will be too big; fish them out with the spoon and cut them smaller.
- When onion begins to brown, add 2 tsp. dried basil and 2 tsp. dried oregano. Actually, I recommend 3 tsp. of each if you have it; I happened to be using up my basil and oregano in this recipe. Also add 5 cloves garlic, crushed. Stir for 1 minute, then push everything to one side of the pot.
- Add another 1 Tbsp. olive oil, spread it over the bare part of the pan, and place on it 1 cup shredded kale that was frozen and thawed. Stir around until it gets a little crispy, 1-2 minutes. As with onion, look for pieces that need to be cut smaller.
- Open a giant can* of tomato puree (food-service size, #10 can). Push vegetables to side of pot, add puree at other side, then mix in vegetables.
- Put 2 cups water into can, stir it around to remove puree from sides of can, and pour into pot. Add 1 tsp. sea salt. Mix thoroughly. Put on lid and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and wait for bubbles to calm down enough that you can stir safely. Remove lid and stir sauce.
- Add 1 whole roasted red pepper that was sliced, frozen, thawed halfway, and then diced. You got that? Well, never mind, because the exact order is unimportant and it doesn’t matter whether it was ever frozen; roasted and diced are the important parts.
- Keep the lid on for faster, non-splattery cooking while you are busy washing dishes. Cook at a significantly bubbling temperature. Every 5 minutes or so, carefully open the lid away from you (so that the steam doesn’t hurt you) and use it as a shield while you stir the sauce. Cook for 28 minutes, until dishes are done, pasta is done, and entire family is starving. This is the minimum cooking time for good flavor; when you reheat some for a later meal, heat it in a pot (not in the microwave) and the flavor will deepen.
*Last August’s recipe cautioned the cook to open the giant can of tomato puree in advance because “this always takes longer than you think it will.” That’s if you are working toward getting every last possible use out of your can opener. We had the most basic hand-held, raw-edged metal can opener, which I’d bought in G.C. Murphy’s about 15 years ago for about $1, and which had a mysterious boast of Nee-Action engraved on it. Whatever Nee-Action may be, it is not as impressive as the action of the splendid new can opener I got for Christmas, which has comfortable rubbery handles in a cheerful shade of red and opens even giant cans in a few easy seconds. Oh, the liberation!!