Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Planned Leftovers- Monica's Marinara

There are two chefs in his house, and therefore, two very different ideas on how to cook various dishes. The Chef is more of a wing-it kind of cook, whereas I am more of a detail oriented cook, especially when it comes to traditional recipes like marinara. I want my sauce to be reliable and as I remember. I'm not someone who wants a pot full of surprise sauce every time I make it. After my trip to the local Italian market in town yesterday I had loads of great ideas for dinner for the next few days, I just needed a big pot of red sauce to pull it all together. So while The Chef napped after his morning at work, I whipped up a nice pot of marinara using some of the items from the Italian market and some of the amazing Sinful Food gourmet olive oils. 

I start my sauce with minced fresh onion and minced fresh garlic. I absolutely cannot imagine sauce without them. Dried or powdered simply will not do in a sauce I am going to simmer for a few hours. I grab a small yellow onion and mince up into tiny pieces. A handful of fresh garlic cloves- 8 or 9 or so- also get a super fine mince. Using my big stockpot I add a good swirl of Sinful Food Basil Olive oil- and right here is where we are going to stop and talk about the oil. This was the first time I've used or tasted the basil oil. I've tried lots of different flavored oils over the years but honestly, Sinful Food has created a miracle here. The second the cork is out of the bottle the aroma of fresh basil surrounds you. Seriously. It has the fragrance of a bunch of freshly picked basil. Green and leafy and so beautiful. A little taste of the oil and I'd swear I was nibbling on a leaf. This stuff, guys, hands down the BEST flavored olive oil I have ever ever tried.

I heat the oil in the pot briefly and that fresh basil aroma just wafts around the kitchen. I added the onions and gave them a little stir for a minute or two to soften before adding the garlic. I'm ready to grab a fork at this point! In goes a good 3 tablespoons Garziano's Italian seasoning and a decent dose of crushed red pepper, stirred around to bring out all the flavors, then in go the roasted tomatoes and tomato paste. Enough water to reconstitute the tomato paste goes in the pot next and I let the sauce simmer for a couple hours. You can use red wine for up to one third of the quantity of water if you like. I didn't have any on hand so I skipped that. Here is the recipe for the sauce-

Monica's Marinara

1 small yellow onion
8 cloves fresh garlic
Sinful Food basil olive oil
3-4 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
Sinful Food Signature Seasoning
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups oven roasted tomatoes or crushed tomatoes(canned or fresh)
3  6 oz cans tomato paste

Finely mince the onion and garlic. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large pot. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, over medium heat until onion is softened and translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for about one minute. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, Signature Seasoning and black pepper to taste. Stir over medium heat for a minute or two until the herbs and spices are fragrant. Add the tomatoes, and tomato paste. Gradually stir in water- general rule is 3 cans water for each can tomato paste. Stir well and raise the heat to bring to a soft boil, the reduce heat and simmer, with a cover ajar, two to three hours to meld the flavors and thicken the sauce.

So now we have a pot of sauce, and a fridge full of Italian groceries. For a household of two, this much sauce will make several meals for us so I will be dividing it up. For tonight we are having baked cavatelli with mini meatballs. The basil oil is going to make another appearance in this dish. I cook one pound of cavatelli pasta in boiling salted water just until al dente. Drained well, it gets tossed with a tablespoon of basil oil and enough sauce to cover. The meatballs get tossed in too and the whole thing goes into a buttered baking dish or individual dishes. A blanket of Provolone cheese goes on top and a drizzle of basil oil. The casserole goes in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until hot and bubbly and covered in melty browned cheese.

For the next meal, I portion out enough sauce for The Chef and I to have fusilli with sauce, a salad and maybe some garlic bread. I can only imagine how delicious this basil oil will be in salad dressing or drizzled over a fresh Caprese salad. This can go in the freezer so we can have it a week or so later. His half of the sauce will get a can of baby clams for his favorite- pasta vongole, while mine will either have a handful of mushrooms added or just as is for a great vegetarian dinner. I don't do clams. Yucky.

The last portion of sauce will be used for tomorrow's dinner- Italian sausage sandwiches on tomato focaccia. I'll patty up some Graziano's Italian sausage, cook until done then slather with heated marinara sauce, cover with Provolone and serve on grilled focaccia that's been brushed with Sinful Food basil olive oil and toasted. So good, so simple.

Get YOUR Sinful Food oils and seasoning by clicking HERE.

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