Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Someone please tell me it's still January. OK, no excuses, I have been cooking, I just haven't been able to get it all down here.

Today is the Galley Slave's birthday (no mention of age here). So this is a picture of one of his favorites. Nothing better than pasta with a Basic Red Sauce and calamari. Happy Birthday!

Here's my basic, it doesn't get any easier than this, you can embellish your heart out sauce. Enjoy and we are on track now.

Red Sauce (AKA Spaghetti Sauce)

1 small onion diced (about 1 – 1 ½ cups)
2-3 garlic cloves minced
1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 – 14.5 oz. can diced Fire Roasted tomatoes
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Coat a heavy pan with about 3 tblsp olive oil and place on a med. High burner. Add the onions and sauté until they become clear, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to mix in being careful not to burn. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Be sure to taste your mixture before adding much salt, the canned tomatoes have salt so you shouldn’t need much more. When the mixture begins to bubble turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve over pasta of your choice. I prefer whole wheat pasta because it’s a great source of fiber and tastes delicious. If using whole wheat pasta cook it for 1 minute less than the box suggests. That way it won’t be overdone and gooey. Of course fresh parmesan cheese is good here too.

The EmbelishAsYouWish part.
If you like meat, then brown some Italian sausage (sweet or spicy) or ground beef. I usually brown the meat in the olive oil first, then continue with the onions, etc. This lets the flavor of the meat work it’s way into the sauce.
Veggies- yeah! They are great in red sauce. A favorite is mushrooms. I like the cremeni (baby portabellas) but you can use white ones or fancy ones. Just slice the mushrooms and add them after the sauce has cooked for about 25 minutes. Add some zucchini or yellow squash. Cut the squash in rings and add just after the mixture starts to bubble and before you turn it down.
I also tend to like spicy so I add the red pepper flakes. It doesn’t take much and they aren’t really hot but they do add a little kick, especially with veggies.