So I know it’s really easy to buy pasta sauce on the cheap at stores, but 1. everything tastes better when you make it the way you like it. 2. You can make it much healthier and fresher. 3. Everything tastes better when it’s fresh. That and I’ve grown mistrustful of many things, ready-made pasta sauces included. I mean, I even got the Trader Joe’s garlic marinara once and HOLY CRAP, you guys.
Vampires would have died had they been within a 5 mile radius of anyone who ate at my home that night, which solves the Team Edward problem. Or maybe it would have caused a Team Edward problem for me because I’d have all those crazy Twihards all up in my grill for garlicking their fictional boyfriend to death.
But I digress.
That sauce was intense, and between it, strangely bitter jars of tomato who-knows-what, and the general uncertainty that comes with trying something new, I decided to take my pasta saucing into my own hands.
By now you’ve probably figured out that most of my recipes are really easy to make your own, so please do!
-10 Roma Tomatoes, chopped chunky
-1/4 Cup Red Wine – I like an almost chocolatey red, but it’s up to you
-2 tbsp Olive Oil
-3-4 Cloves Garlic, minced
-1 Yellow Onion, chopped
-1 Red Pepper, chopped
-1 tbsp Oregano
-1 Bay Leaf
-2 Stalks Celery, chopped
-2 Carrots, chopped
*Optional, but strongly recommended:
-1 tbsp Flour
-1 tbsp butter
-1/2 cup Cream, Milk, or Half & Half
-1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded
-1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
1. Toss all your chopped veggies, wine, olive oil, and seasonings into a slow cooker. Cook on medium for about 3 hours, covered. Uncover and cook on high for about a half hour to 45 minutes. DONE. Unless….
2. If you want to make a pink sauce, start by making a roux. To make a roux, you’ll heat your butter in a sauce pan and mix in your flour until it is incorporated. Keep cooking it until it loses the raw flour taste, then start to slowly add in your milk, cheeses, and the tomato sauce that’s waiting in the slow cooker. Stir until all parts are thoroughly mixed, especially the cheese. It should not only have melted in, but it shouldn’t be floating around in chunks.
3. Cook your pasta, of course, and either toss your pasta in the sauce, or pour the sauce over the pasta. I like the latter, some like the former. Again, to each his own. Just enjoy!
A Few Extra Notes
-I like super chunky pasta sauces, but not everyone does, so chop your veggies accordingly. The tomatoes will be mushy enough to mash down, but if you like a really smooth sauce, the blender is never a bad option. Just be sure to blend BEFORE step 2.
-The sauce will taste different depending on what kind of tomatoes you use and when. The one time I made this with heirlooms, I wasn’t quite happy with it – it was incredibly bright, almost tart, and frankly, they lend themselves more to only being lightly cooked (think warmed) with olive oil and fresh basil, just to toss into some pasta. That said, experiment if there is a variety that you happen to like. They will also taste different with the seasons, and summer is when they’ll be at their peak.
-The way the tomatoes are cooked will also alter the flavor of your sauce. Cooking them for a while, like described above, is great for drawing out the robustness of your tomatoes. Lightly cooking will soften the tomatoes a bit, but when tomatoes are at their very prime, there is always the option of simply chopping, tossing in garlic, oregano, and chopped basil, like you would for bruschetta.
-You can also cook up and toss in some ground beef or ground turkey to make a meat sauce.
So that’s it! Now you can go fire up The Godfather and get your Italian on like it’s the family business.
Mangia e divertiti!