make your own pasta sauce

so i think everyone should make their own pasta sauce. i have a few reasons:
1. it can make you feel like an old, Italian grandmother
2. it impresses friends and strangers alike
3. it will taste exactly how you want it to
4. it's really not hard at all
5. it's actually kinda fun

i'm still messing around with the recipe, adding stuff and taking away others but i think i have the basics down.

here's what you need from the store, assuming you have nothing in your pantry at home. (some items you'll probably have already) the italicized items are optional.

what you need from the produce section:
fresh tomatoes - 3 to 4 lbs
cloves garlic - 1 bulb (you'll use 2-3 cloves for this recipe)
*fresh herbs (basil, parsley, marjoram, oregano, rosemary) - i just buy a little of each
carrots, onions, mushrooms or any other vegetables you like in your pasta sauce

from elsewhere in the store:
pepper - one of those grinder kinds, for the freshly ground pepper taste
boiled tomatoes - one small can
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
bottle of red wine

wash your produce
chop up your vegetables
fill a pot full of water & turn on the heat
get out your saucepan
open your can of boiled/stewed tomatoes
open bottle of wine

with a sharp paring knife cut a cross on the bottom of each tomato. when water is hot (not boiling!) gently drop the tomatoes into the water. leave for one or two minutes or until you can see the skin kinda start to peel a little. don't leave too long.

step one and a half:
while tomatoes are swimming, pour a little (1-2 tblsp) olive oil in your saucepan and chop up your 2-3 cloves of garlic and put in saucepan. wait to turn it on.

turn down your water heat to medium (if you're going to make pasta. that way it's still warm/hot and won't take so long to boil) or just down.

using a slotted spoon, fish tomatoes out of hot water. rinse with cool water and using your paring knife, peel tomatoes, being sure to cut off the crown. once your tomatoes are peeled, give each tomato a good squeeze to rid it of excess water and the seeds. this is a fun part - squeeze the bejesus out of the tomatoes, you want them to disintegrate into a mushy pulpy pasta sauce consistency. if you don't like a messy kitchen, be a bit careful where you're pointing your squeezing. i ended up with tomato seeds in a few places i'd rather not have tomato seeds. like in my hair.

put the pulpy tomato goodness into a medium bowl and turn your saucepan heat up to medium/medium hot. let the garlic cook for 30-45 seconds stirring it around to cover the bottom of the pan and then pour in your tomatoes. keep the bowl handy. throw in a pinch of salt. stir the goodness around until the pulp starts breaking down and releasing juices.

once this starts to happen, using your slotted spoon, pick out the pulp and put it back in its medium bowl. this helps keep your pasta tasting tomatoey fresh. i think it also helps diminish the watery factor you can get with homemade sauces.

throw in your vegetables. especially if you're adding carrots or other veggies that will take some time to soften. stir occasionally until it's pretty thick. once you need to scrape the bottom of the saucepan, add the tomatoes back in. stir it up good. turn the heat down to medium-low.

turn up your water heat and add your pasta when it starts to boil. if you're an olive oil in your pasta water person, add it - same if you're a salt in your pasta water person.

the fiddling begins

during this step, taste often. keep an eye on your sauce. you know how thick you like your pasta sauce and using careful additions, you'll be able to make it taste exactly how you would like it.

pour a glub (a quick pour, maybe a couple of tablespoons. be careful not to over pour and liquid up your sauce too much) of wine and stir. if you're using the tube of herbs, squirt about a 1/2 inch to 1 inch into the four quadrants (north, south, east and west) of your pan and stir. pour some of the juice in and stir. squish these tomatoes and add them. add a glub of balsamic vinegar and stir. crack some pepper and stir. add a little garlic powder if you want. if you're using fresh herbs, add them and stir.

turn down the heat to low if you haven't already and leave your sauce alone for a little while. turn your attention to the other parts of your meal. let it sit with itself and get more delicious.

eat it up. put the rest in a jar in the fridge. give some to your friends. it'll last a few days. after the first time you do this, you get a feel for how you like it and once you get it down, it should only take 15-20 minutes to make. which is awesome. because it's delicious.

*you can use one of those Italian Seasoning Herb Blend tubes they have. it's weird, i know, but if you're not up for chopping up and experimenting with the quantities of herbs it's an easy alternative.


that's where you'll find me now. eating a piece of bread with pasta sauce on it.


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