Thursday, August 28, 2008

Marinara Sauce & "Favors From The Home" Review

I got this recipe from a community ed cooking class* I took a few times quite long ago, adapted just a tad, mostly in timing. It's a delicious, versatile sauce for spaghetti, manicotti, lasagna, etc. Mr. Kluges loves it best over Italian sausages and garlic mashed potatoes. You can do it with canned or fresh tomatoes, but I'm not sure of the quantity if you do fresh, so just give it a try. I'll try to update it with an approximate quantity of fresh tomatoes next time I make it.

Note: This one is doubled from the original because it's no more work & you can freeze half of it for later. Or just eat a lot.

Two 28 oz. cans Hunt's whole peeled tomatoes (or equivalent fresh tomatoes, peeled & seeded**) [9/5 - I made these starting with a bit more than 4 1/2 lbs. of fresh tomatoes. I wouldn't do less, but you could probably go between 5-6 lbs. pre-peeling/-seeding weight.]
6 Tbl. olive oil
3/4 - 1 c. diced red onion
6 large cloves minced garlic
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil OR 3 Tbl. Chef Jeff's frozen basil*** OR 3 Tbl. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dry oregano
1 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper to taste
dash of crushed red pepper flakes to taste (opt.)

1. Rough chop tomatoes in a blender or food processor and set aside. (If doing with fresh, peel and seed them first. **)

2. Place a large pan or stock pot or Dutch oven over high heat; add olive oil, onion and garlic; reduce heat to medium high and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, or until mixture becomes pale golden in color (not brown).

3. Add tomatoes, oregano, red pepper, sugar, salt and pepper to the onion mixture. (Also basil if using dried.)

4. Bring sauce to boil; reduce to simmer for 30-45 minutes for better flavor.

5. Add (fresh) basil and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until desired consistency is reached; remove from heat (and eat, or set aside to cool to use in lasagna, or to freeze).

* Oh, look - the internet is a wonderful thing! It was "Flavors From the Home" with Chef Jeff, and looking at his website, I see that it looks like he's still doing classes around the TC area, maybe starting in September. They were FUN classes where you actually get to cook and eat the menu, and take the recipes home. All the ones I took started off relaxed, but the pace picked up as you went and I think every one finished late. But the food made it all worthwhile! Note: Even though you'll get to eat, it wasn't until the end of the class, so don't go hungry or you'll be starving before the end. Also, Chef Jeff is a hoot. Looking at the menus, I took Oriental Favorites I - Menu #1, Southern Italian Family Style I - Menu #2, Gourmet with a French Accent I - Menu #3, Southern Italian Family Style II - Menu #5, Traditional Southern Italian - Menu #7, Pasta! Pasta! Pasta! II - Menu #13, and Traditional French II - Menu #14. They were all wonderful fun and delicious to boot. I highly recommend them, but I think they filled up fast, so if you're interested, check out which ones are nearby and call the appropriate contact on the registration page.

**An easy way to peel and seed fresh tomatoes is to bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Cut an X in the skin at the bottom of the tomato, then drop it in the boiling water for like 20-30 seconds. Take it out, and you should be able to peel it easily, starting at the X. To seed them easily, cut them in half along the equator, NOT from bottom to top. Then you can just take a half in your hand and squeeze out most of the seeds with ease.

*** Chef Jeff recommended taking large quantities of fresh basil, washing & roughly chopping it, mixing it with a good amount of olive oil, then making long tubes/rolls/fat-thumb-thick-snakes of it in plastic wrap and freezing it. You can whack off a hunk of it and get great fresh flavor, even if it looks browner than it would when actually fresh.

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