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Monday, June 13, 2011

What’s in Your Sauce?

Is your freezer stuffed with last year’s leftover tomatoes? These remnants of a bygone garden are just itching to find a pot. With this chilly, damp spring weather, a good tomato sauce and pasta is still making its way into the kitchen forecast. The problem with leftover, frozen tidbits of fresh tomatoes is one, the fruit itself is unidentifiable. Was it a cherry, which goes off the sugar dial or was it an heirloom? Either way, frozen tomatoes seem to produce a sweeter sauce. So here’s a trick I used last night to give my sauce a bit of a cacciatore flavor.

But first, a few other tricks when making your frozen fresh tomato sauce:

Frozen tomatoes most definitely create a watery sauce so add some of your own canned tomatoes, which for some reason are less sweet and a can of tomato paste to give it a thicker consistency. Simmer and add the following:

Sautee an onion in a tablespoon of olive oil and mix with the simmering tomatoes.
Add your dried spearmint (The secret ingredient!)
Sautee your meat for flavor (fennel sausage, hamburger or for a vegetarian sauce, skip the meat but I can’t guarantee the flavor. Pork/sausage gives an eclectic taste that tomatoes and onions just don’t quite offer.)
Any leftover red wine on the counter works perfect so add it in.
Sautee one bulb of garlic (our fresh garlic will be ready in a couple of weeks) in a tablespoon of olive oil.

Now here’s the cacciatore part.
Take your sautéed garlic and add five cut up Pastene’s Peperoncini (Peppers in Vinegar) and puree in a food processor. I use one of those tiny gadgets for these kitchen ventures rather than dig out the massive two ton worker bee.
Add this mix to your sauce and simmer another 20 minutes and you will find this sweet cacciatore flavor that has you thinking you died and woke up in Italy.

With that sauce simmering on the back burner, don’t forget this cool weather is great for growing lettuce. A fresh salad goes wonderful with your pasta dish. Here's another easy trick. Do you love crotons on your salad? Please tell me you don’t buy those perfectly shaped processed ones in a box. Use your leftover crusty bread to make your own flavorful crunchy toppings for your salad. Don’t want to heat the oven or need to be quick? Pop the sliced bread in the toaster and get them crispy and dark enough. Cut into irregular cubes and drizzle olive oil, salt and whatever other spices i.e., garlic salt, Romano or Parmesan cheese. Whatever you add, it won’t be processed like the ones in the box.

It's hard not to notice while wrapping up this sauce post that the sun and the clouds seem to be duking it out. It’s anyone’s guess what’s in store for this week’s forecast. But if you still have last year’s frozen fresh tomatoes hanging out in the freezer bin, best to use them for cooking up a sauce before this summer’s fresh batch comes in. And as the British novelist, Virginia Woolf said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Don’t forget to share your favorite sauce recipes. And always dine well. It starts with fresh growies in the garden. And of course, a kicker sauce!

Image from the Internet

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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)