Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tomato Sauce, v. 3.0

I CANNOT PRAISE this recipe enough. If the price, questionable nutritional value and bland taste of bottled tomato sauce is getting you down, then you really need to consider this recipe for red sauce as passed down through the Giacchino family. I'm revisiting this point because one thing was made clear to me today: the importance of basil.

First, however, I want to remind people how cheap and easy this all is. Can of
Sclafani crushed tomatoes: $1.99; fresh basil: $2.50 per bunch; and one measly, single carrot: $0.25. This is what I'm assuming most people would need to purchase on the way home, where I suspect olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and perhaps an onion are already waiting (onion optional). Now, $4.75 is what one might expect to pay for a decent pre-made bottle of basic red sauce, so this is not bad. Buy a couple extra cans of tomatoes, make a large batch, freeze a few containers, and you can see how this quickly becomes quite economical.

Garlic, basil, and onion--partners in tomato sauce deliciousness

And once you've procured your ingredients, the actual cooking part is stupid-easy. Anyone who can wield a knife is capable of slicing garlic, an onion, shaving a carrot, and roughly chopping a few leaves of basil. Just keep the heat low, lightly fry your garlic, onion, and a bit of basil in the olive oil, then dump in the rest. Let sit for an hour. Stir occassionaly. This is not daunting.

Combine, stir, and let simmer

Most importantly, and this is the reason I've dredged up the topic once again, you really do need fresh basil. This point is
inescapable. We discussed the results using dried basil in my second experience with this recipe, and while the sauce was certainly edible it was lacking that sweet, savory flavor that makes fresh tomato sauce really yummy. If the price of basil turns you off, then buying a bunch and making a large batch, as mentioned above, is really the thing to do.

Keep it cheap by growing your own basil

You can use this nicely as a base for other ingredients, too, like cheeses or meats. Ours was simply poured over penne and served up with some sauteed zucchini. Aaron, who stopped by for some eats, was rather amazed that it was so easily homemade. Indeed it was.

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