Monday, November 30, 2009

Marinara Sauce - aka 'Sunday Gravy'

3 28oz cans of peeled Roma tomatoes (San Marzano tomatoes are the best)
1/2 small onion - chopped fine
3 cloves garlic - minced
3 Tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
1/4 cup of a hearty red wine
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper - to taste
2 Tablespoon dried basil (or Oregano, but not both)


This is the only hard part of this recipe - in order to avoid the bitterness of the tomato seeds, use a food mill to separate them from the pulp. Alternatively, you can fillet each tomato (if you have the patience) removing as many seeds as possible, then dice the fillets.

In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute gently for 2 minutes until somewhat translucent. Then add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the red wine and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until the liquid is reduced and the alcohol is evaporated. The onions, garlic and simmering wine make an unbelievable aroma in your kitchen!

Now it's time to add the tomatoes. At first you'll need medium heat to get the sauce going. Stir frequently to keep the sauce temperature even. As the sauce begins to bubble, reduce the heat. Keep stirring and reducing the heat in order to maintain a gently simmer.

Here's where many recipes go astray. Italians do not typically cook their sauce for a long time. Twenty to forty minutes is usually enough. This leaves the sauce with a light flavor and a bright texture.

To serve in the traditional style, spoon a small amount onto your pasta and stir it in. Your guests may want to spoon more onto their plates, but traditionally, the pasta is the highlight of the course and Italians do not drown their pasta in sauce.

While there is no salt in this recipe - it tends to add some bitterness - you may add a little bit halfway through the simmer if you like. If you have been diligent about removing the seeds, you will not need to add any sugar or other ingredients to 'correct' the taste.

Here's an interesting story about "Growing up Italian" in the United States in the '50s.

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