Saturday, March 21, 2020

Here's a Little Gem for Self-Imposed Shut-Ins.

This social distancing/self-isolating thing is going to get tiresome if it's not already.

If you're like me you may wonder how long you can live out of your pantry. The problem there is that you wind up looking at what's actually in your pantry. That can give you an immediate case of the "glums."

Tinned goods - oh aren't they appealing. Flour, yeast, sugar - the mind practically reels with excitement. Pasta of so many descriptions and shapes.

But there may be some hidden gems that you're overlooking. I discovered one last night, Marcella Hazan's recipe for pasta sauce. It's the ultimate in simplicity and, when it comes to Italian food, simplicity is often the key to really good dishes.

The ingredients:

1 28 oz. tin of San Marzano tomatoes (roma tomatoes will do if that's what you've got)

Butter - 4 tablespoons

1 onion, peeled and cut in half.

Salt to taste.

That's it, just four ingredients.

You put the tomatoes in a pot, juices included. Break them up with a fork or potato masher. Position the onions, sliced side down, in the bottom of the pot. Add the butter in chunks.

Heat the tomatoes almost to boiling then turn down the heat to simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook your pasta of choice, just past al dente. Drain.

Remove the onions. Mix the tomato sauce in with the pasta, add parm, perhaps a bit of basil or parsely.


My expectations weren't high, despite all the rave reviews of this recipe. I was very surprised. It must be the butter. It creates a pleasantly rich tomato sauce that somehow filled the penne to capacity. It was delightful.

As I don't feed a horde I've got plenty of pasta sauce left over. I'll fiddle with it tonight and see if it will double as a pizza sauce.

There you go. Utter simplicity. Perishables - one onion, a bit of fresh herb, and a slab of butter. Shelf-stable - pasta, tinned tomatoes, cheese.

BTW - the onion you used to lightly season the sauce? Don't throw it out. It's also delicious all on its own.


Russell said...

Enjoyed the recipe - sounds very good. Yes, this sheltering at home is going to be a trial but hopefully worth it. If nothing else it gives a chance to do things we have not done for some time if at all. For example, I re-discovered this blog I have not used for the past 5 years! I was surprised it still exists! My very close friend, Johanna, lives in Vancouver but we do get to the island which I prefer over the city.

Trailblazer said...

FFS Mound .
At our ages we do not need butter.
Salt, forget it.

I had statins to reduce my Cholesterol which slowed me to a snail's pace.

A lifestyle , but difficult, change to almost non dairy totally cured me, no more medication.


The Disaffected Lib said...

Hi, Russell. Yes, this may be an opportunity to resuscitate the ailing blogosphere. A former lawyer, eh? Join the club.

A few years ago, Jamie Oliver did a series on Italian cooking. He traveled to regions known for a particular dish, something that he offered at his restaurants in England. He invariably found a local to prepare the authentic version of the dish against his own. Time and again, Oliver's recipe was elaborate, featuring a cornucopia of ingredients. The home grown alternative was almost always very simple with just a handful of ingredients. The paisan version always prevailed. I'm working on learning simplicity.

Good luck with social distancing/isolation. We'll all figure it out. We might even rekindle pastimes that we let fall by the wayside.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Ah, TB, a reformed sinner. They're always the worst scolds. As the kids say, YOLO. Yes, I realize indulgence may take several years off one's life but, remember, they're the last years.

the salamander said...

.. We have baked salmon every Thursday. A nice filet, always from where the head was cut off, on foil in a brownie baking pan. Mixed rice or Indian rice and lately, steamed then sauteed rapini, though we can do the same with spinach just sauteed, no pre-steaming. We do lots & I micro it Friday or Sunday night, or its cold lunch grazing, as I paint. (painting is probably over for me & I must re-awaken the photo artist in me, which is way overdue. 'I came up with a brand new plan' as Steve Earle sang in Copperhead Road)

Must give the pasta sauce recipe a shot.. will inform the boss lady. We are both one meal a day folk, dinner, but of late I bake extra potatoes to have in the pan as i stroke my sunny side up egg or 2 eggs in a crafty new way. It is using my plastic ladle to push egg white around so it fully cooks at same rate as the yolk. I can also micro the potatoes so the pan is egg only, and flip the egg when done once snd immediately slide it atop the warmed potato.. I may even add some canned kernal corn into the chopped up potato.. its not finenas hash, but close.. and the corn is a fab addition to many things. Always to my chili of course, which always has sun dried tomatoes galore added late.

My son adores my spicy dozen grilled Italian sausage with rotini. a medium can of kernal corn always, a can of sundried tomatoes diced, mebbe a bottle of pesto sauce. Weekends mebbe three or four or ten of his homies might hijack our bachelor pad, spin my vinyl (i was a DJ in Guelph and Banff) I knew were drinking & toking but preferred they do so under my purview, not back alley etc pretend they weren't. Feeding them my rotini just made sense, so I doubled or tripled every recipe. Dylan could come home from lacrosse or hockey or at midnight and demo the larder. So have 2-3 huge salad bowls standing by in the fridge and the microwave ready for battle. The punk is 6' 5' - 225 as of age 22 so I guess I did OK..

The boss often subs ground turkey for ground beef - Chili - pasta sauce - etc - we both love our salads, sometimes I pan fry chicken breasts and slice one for my salad. But I do love a killer caesar salad too & never spare the anchovies.. love em.

We all love - adore our mexican (more corn) I must read up on huevos seeing as I love em for brunch time with my killer margaritas.. We always add a wicked garlic pickled bean to a spicy caesar and binge on oysters.

If you look online you can find the Grazi menu as recipes. I have bought that cookbook at the restaurant (Toronto, Yonge & Eglinton) and nobody serves perfect el dente pasta like Grazi. Nobody. I have had the baby clam linguini maybe 15 times. They call it Capri

Did I mention cajun ? Hoho.. the boss slays with her jambalaya .. stupid good amazing.. we do love our shrimp, love our chicken.. so its a natural & we like it a bit runny from the pot as the beans will soon absorb any light broth. We freeze 2/3rds of her huge batch.. so that's two more dinners each down the road. Pan cook to golden brown some of her crab cakes & roll over n die .. cuz yer in heaven cher !

There ya goes.. havin a pound of nice Canadian feta in the fridge, some kalamata olives handy never hurt nobody
Same with going full Italian with prosciutto & medium edgy sauce whatchcallit.. hmm

One other I just remembered.. you can make yourself two turkey breasts, skin on, stuffed and tied together. We do that Christmas and Thanksgiving.. do it like you always do turkey and have gravy. Its just one beauty slice after another, pass the gravy please. Leftovers are just more of the silly good goodness micro'd

It time to wrap dude .. stay safe, stay smart
remember that Albers Camus, the plague writer quote.. goes something like
'the man who infects the fewest is the man who has the fewest mental lapses' ..

The Disaffected Lib said...

Okay, Sal, you're on. Type up your recipes. Send them here or to my private email address. I'll post it. Make it your best, something you can probably put together with what you're apt to have in your fridge and pantry, and I'll post it.

Same goes for all of you regulars. It's gotta be easy, cheap and a real break from the daily grind.

This 'inconvenience' could go on for two/three months. We're going to need variety, something good enough that we might want to try it and repeat it.

It's not like we've suddenly got so many pressing priorities, eh?