Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Simple pasta in tomato sauce

This is one of my standards since it's reasonably easy to make, I usually have all the ingredients laying around in my kitchen and it's quite versatile.

Working time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: At least 20 minutes

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic (or more if you're into that)
1 can of whole San Marzano tomatoes (yes, they cost 50 cents more, but they're worth it. If you want to save the 50 cents, make sure you still buy whole tomatoes, diced/crushed tomatoes have a tart flavour to them)
1 tbsp tomato paste

chopped up fresh basil
salt to taste
Boxed pasta (as opposed to bagged pasta)
Optional: olives, sundried tomatoes, chili peppers, chili flakes, cut up meat, chopped up veggies, leftover sandwich meat, really whatever. In the photo above, I put in chopped up olives from a jar, sundried tomatoes and chili flakes.

Let's do it!

Heat up the oil in a saucepan with a lid to medium low heat.

Chop up the onions and toss them into the saucepan when the oil swirls around the pan quickly. Give them a stir. Peel and mince the garlic and set aside.

Open the can of tomatoes and pour them onto a sieve, over a bowl. Pinch the individual tomatoes open to extract the juices/water inside. Tap the sieve to get all the water/juice into the bowl. Fill a separate bowl of water and rinse the seeds out of the tomatoes. At this point, you can either mix the tomatoes in with the juice and puree it in a food processor, or you can smoosh them with your hands before mixing them back into the juice, making for a chunkier sauce.

Quick tip: I always make sure I have canned tomatoes in my kitchen, they're quick, they're good and you can put them in a billion dishes like stews, curries, sauces and soups. Plus, they last forever which will be great after the rapture happens and you've already gone through all the food in your saintly neighbour's fridge.

Every once in a while, give your onions a quick stir and check to make sure they're not browning too quickly. If the stove is set low enough, you'll be able to work on the tomatoes while the onions are slowly cooking. When the onions are translucent, throw in the garlic and stir. Watch this carefully. Garlic burns quickly and will ruin your sauce. Sure, you could always start over with new onions and garlic, but let's not be silly. When the garlic starts to turn colour, throw in your tomatoes. Stir stir stir.

Now add tomato paste and let it simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. The longer you simmer, the thicker and mellower (less tangy) the sauce will be. The less time you simmer, the fresher the sauce will be.

Quick tip: If you find yourself with 4/5 of a tin of tomato paste leftover, spoon it all into a zipper freezer bag, push all the air out and flatten it. Stick this in your freezer and it will keep for months. When you need sauce, just break a piece off.

5 minutes before you're ready to finish cooking the sauce, throw in the basil. I don't measure a lot of stuff, so I'm guessing you can put in a handful. 

Salt to taste.

While the sauce is simmering, make the pasta, make sure you follow all the directions on the package! I recommend the Barilla brand of pasta. You pay a little more, but if you follow the directions exactly (I set my microwave clock timer to ensure I get it right), you get perfect pasta, instead of that starchy, soggy mess you get with the cheap stuff. The Barilla Rigatoni is my favourite type. When it goes on sale (88 cents at No Frills, last time), I stock up like crazy.

When you're packing your lunch, you can put all sorts of things in the sauce (see optional items above) for variety. I do this as a last step so I can change it up from one day to the next. This recipe will make enough sauce for 2-4 servings (depending on how much you eat). If you store it in a airtight container in your fridge, you can keep it for up to 5 days, but don't take my word for it. Do the sniff test every time. If you're not certain after sniffing, do a taste test. If you're still not sure, throw it out. No sense in making yourself sick to save a buck.

Lunch time tips

If you are like me, you get incredibly angry when your pasta is overcooked. Like.. really angry. Like getting called to HR angry.

To avoid being suspended for inappropriate behaviour, make sure you pack your pasta and sauce separately. To heat up the pasta, boil some water in a kettle or microwave and pour that over the pasta. Shake and strain. Heat up the sauce as you normally would. If you don't have access to a microwave, heat the sauce up that morning, then put it in a thermos. Also beware of heating things up in plastic, as the chemicals will apparently give men boobs, and make women's boobs fall off or something.

1 comment:

  1. ummm, this tip for the tom paste is brilliant! thank you lainey!!! u are already changing my life! ha! :D love yas, xo