Roasted Marinara Sauce

Roasted tomato marinara

So it’s been something of a busy year I’m afraid. All good things. Things like trips to Europe and moving into new apartments and getting a new dog (!). Somewhere in the shuffle I stopped blogging. Oh, I still experimented in the kitchen… but not very often. I still talked about it, still checked on my blog friends. Always bookmarked and brainstormed recipes. I’ve been trying to get back in my groove for a while and never actually took that first step.

I’m not really sure what came over me today. Or this week really. Basically, I’ve been craving baguette and marinara like you wouldn’t believe. I grabbed some bread and jarred sauce on my way home from work one night, but it was disappointing. And just like that, I had to figure out a new marinara recipe. Wasn’t even an option. And clearly I needed to take pictures and share.

I made a small batch because I didn’t know what to expect, or how much it would make. Bottom line, it is so fresh, light and delicious and I could mop it up with bread (or anything) for days. Really. The best part was that it was extremely easy to make.

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Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce

(recipe makes 18 ounces – roughly 1.5 small mason jars. You may want to consider multiplying for your purposes)

2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored & cut into halves or thirds
1/2 large onion, chopped in large pieces
7 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup red or white wine
2 Tbsp fresh basil
2 tsp fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp of hot sauce or 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional, include to taste)
2 Tbsp butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

These ingredients can all be tweaked for what you have on hand. For example, I happened to have fresh basil, parsley and thyme growing (more likely slowly dying) on my back deck, so I threw them in. I would recommend you include the basil, as it gave the marinara a distinctive flavor.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Core the tomatoes – insert knife about 1 inch into tomato and make a circular cut around the stem, keeping the point of the knife towards the center. You should be able to pull out a cone shaped portion of the core. Cut the tomatoes in halves or thirds and spread evenly in the bottom of an ungreased 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Distribute the chopped onions and peeled garlic throughout. Drizzle the wine and olive oil over the top, then distribute the butter pats evenly throughout. Frankly the butter and olive oil combination may have been a bit of overkill, but I couldn’t bear to leave one or the other out. Season generously with salt and pepper.

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Roast in the oven for 45 minutes. I ended up turning on my broiler for an additional 10 or 15 minutes because I didn’t feel that the vegetables were getting enough color. At this point, add the fresh herbs, returning to the oven for 10 more minutes.

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Remove from oven and spoon into a food processor (if you want to pour it in, do so at your own risk – this will splatter). Add Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce or red pepper flakes. Pulse in the food processor until the sauce has reached desired consistency. I prefer a smoother sauce so I pulsed several times until the bigger chunks have evened out. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed. This is perfect for pastas, pizzas, dipping – you name it. I wouldn’t count on it lasting long though!

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My New Favorite: Balsamic Vinaigrette


I feel a strange need to prove to people that I actually do love salad, and not that I am trying to be healthy (definitely not the case).  Inevitably I will share an anecdote to lend a little weight to my claim.  Well… I only have one story.  When I was younger and my sister and I were visiting our grandparents for the week, Grandma told me that I could have anything I wanted for breakfast.  Cake, ice cream, anything.  I opted for salad.  She looked at me like I had 2 heads, and promptly pulled the lettuce out of the fridge.  Aren’t grandmas the best?  But there you have it.  I crave salad, and it’s been a longstanding love affair.

This brings up a couple of key questions.  Why is this the first time I’ve attempted homemade salad dressing?  How did I not realize that it was so easy? What have I been waiting for? Then, when I first started researching recipes for balsamic vinaigrette, which has my highest esteem as far as dressings go, I realized I had all of the ingredients at home already. The shame.

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette (adapted from Chinese Grandma’s recipe)

1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced (roughly 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

That’s a good looking jug of balsamic, isn’t it?

Start by mixing honey, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic. You could definitely do this in a food processor, but I whisked by hand.

Whisk in the balsamic. If your arm is getting tired at this point, you’re in trouble.

Whisk in the olive oil a bit at the time until fully incorporated. The dressing should emulsify and won’t have a watery consistency.  You may have to use some muscle.

I swear that’s thicker than it photographs. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator.

You could put this dressing on so much more than salad. Drizzle over your favorite vegetables, put it on some fresh bread, serve with grilled chicken, the possibilities are endless.

p.s. It’s Saturday night. I’m hanging on the couch, watching glee, sipping a glass of wine. Pure bliss.

 

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli and how you go about roasting that red pepper in the first place

I really enjoy roasted red pepper, and when I get fancy sandwiches at restaurants, I really enjoy aioli. So, I figured what better than to combine the two and try to make some roasted red pepper aioli? Now this immediately posed a conundrum for me, because roasted red pepper just feels wrong to say (but roast red pepper doesn’t sound right either). I’m not even sure why. But I (and google) can assure you that roasted red pepper is definitely right. Annoying, but correct. I’ll also assume no one else has ever thought twice about it, which leads me to believe I actually am a crazy person.

I will admit, I have never tried to roast a pepper at home but I found it really easy! A couple of recipes suggested brushing the pepper with oil before placing under the broiler, but I didn’t go that route and it worked like a charm.

Basically, place red pepper under the broiler, and turn periodically until the outside skin is slightly blackened. The red pepper will lose its shape and no longer be firm. Then, you will peel away the outside skin.

It comes right off in little strips! I just found a part where the skin had cracked and pulled. I suppose you could use a knife as well. Can you see the steam coming off the above picture? It’s faint, but it’s there!

 I then cut into the peeled roasted red pepper and scraped out the seeds. I saw instructions saying you could just squeeze the seeds out the top, but this seemed easier to me. And now, you have a roasted red pepper to include in your aioli!

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli (adapted from the Saucy Southerner’s recipe)

3 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
4 dashes Tabasco
1 Large Red Pepper, Roasted
2/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

 This is pretty simple. Combine everything in the food processor except the oil, salt and pepper. I pulsed my red pepper first, just because I wanted to make sure everything broke down easily.

 What a beautiful, vibrant red.

Then add yolks, mustard, Tabasco, and lemon juice. Pulse until evenly combined.

I added extra garlic. Garlic makes everything taste better.

Drizzle in oil until fully incorporated. This should complete the emulsification process and you will end up with a cloudy liquid. Traditionally, aioli is made with oil, garlic and egg yolk. Wikipedia says so.

This aioli has the perfect amount of tang and kick – I loved it! And I was terrified I would get salmonella from eating the raw egg but I made it out in one piece. I say that so you will know not to be scared also.  And to add a disclaimer that the consumption of raw egg may increase your odds of foodborne illness. But seriously, it’ll be fine. Remember all that cookie dough you ate as a child?

Happy Tuesday!

-k

Bacon Marinara Sauce – The first and last marinara recipe you’ll ever need.

So, Cheri posed an interesting question on my contact page regarding a flavorful marinara sauce. More specifically, she dropped the “b” word…. BACON. What could I do but immediately run out to the grocery store? I did some googling, and was very disappointed with the recipes I saw, so this one is on me. I was trying to find an authentic recipe and I came up with very little. What a sad world we live in. Everyone would be a little happier with bacon marinara on their plate.

This is a good recipe to have in your back pocket. As easy as it is to pick up a jar of sauce at the store, it just doesn’t have the depth of flavor as a marinara you make yourself.  And believe me, This guy is approaching the grand canyon of marinara flavor.

I started with a mirepoix. Drop that term. You’ll sound so chef-y. A traditional mirepoix is a mixture of celery, onions and carrots and is a flavor base for a wide range of sauces and dishes. Ever hear anyone talking about aromatics? I don’t really think of celery and onion as aromatic, but apparently they are.  I also think it’s important to note that I hate celery (pretty passionately as a matter of fact) and I wouldn’t leave it out of this dish.

I started with several stalks of celery, a handful of baby carrots and a medium white onion. You could also use yellow onion, but I’d probably stay away from red onion.  This brings me to another point of reference.  When I first started cooking, I had no idea how to chop an onion.  I would generally cut off the ends, peel and then after laying it on a flat side, I would cut crosswise and diagonally to make a minced effect. No longer.  After watching the food network, I decided to try to learn the right way. Here’s how:

Cut off the ends of the onion and peel away the outer layer. Then, chop in half. Lay the onion down on its midsection and make horizontal cuts.

Now make vertical cuts.

Then, slice of the end a little bit at a time and it will make a beautifully chopped onion. So beautiful you may cry. You might be crying from the “aroma” anyways.

Bacon Marinara

1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
Handful of carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic
1 large can crushed & peeled tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
8 pieces bacon (or use pancetta instead)
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the mirepoix and set aside.

Saute the bacon in a large saute pan until crispy. Take out and set aside. Once cool, chop into bite sized pieces.

In the bacon fat left in the pan, saute the carrots, celery and onion on medium low heat until soft, approximately 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add red wine and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the remainder of the ingredients (not the bacon) and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Add more wine, garlic or worcestershire depending on taste.

S was in charge of getting the crushed tomatoes, and he instead got whole canned tomatoes. I wasn’t as happy with them – even though we chopped them prior to using I thought they did not break down as much as I would have liked. Make sure the tomatoes are peeled. Otherwise your marinara will have gross tomato skins in it. No one wants that.

Add bacon and continue to simmer until sauce has achieved the consistency desired.

Remove the bay leaf, and serve with the pasta or dish of your choice. We added ours to a stuffed cabbage recipe (which will shortly follow) and it was INCREDIBLE. Thank you Cheri for pushing me to try this! I will  be using it for years to come!

Have a lovely Sunday!

-k