Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wholegrain Spaghetti with Indescribably Good Sauce

The last of summer, first of fall here in Oregon, is tomato season and hours are spent saving the luscious round globes in paste balls and roasted tomatoes.  But it all pays off when the first day of Februrary rolls around and after a day of digging up bushes in the rain you can sit down to this powerful sauce after a quick half-hour in the kitchen.

I am not usually over-fond of whole-wheat pasta which can be too heavy for weak sauces.  But well-cooked (a little past al dente), well-salted, well-oiled, and then combined with a powerfully zestful sauce like this one they are marvelous.  Topped with  mozzarella, this dish is a little taste of heaven. 


Tomato Paste Balls: (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

Indescribably Good Sauce

Combine in a large sauce pan and begin to simmer
  • 1 Tomato Paste Ball
  • 1 qt. Roasted & Frozen Tomatoes
  • a generous amount of fresh mushrooms, sliced.

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
and add to the tomatoes and mushrooms along with
  • 28 - 32 oz. diced canned tomatoes.

Simmer until the roasted tomatoes are completely thawed and the sauce begins to thicken.

  • 3 - 4 Tablespoons honey
  • salt
  • pepper.
Serve over whole wheat spaghetti noodles that have been cooked just beyond al dente in plenty of salted water, drained and then oiled with olive oil.  Top with a bit of mozzarella which will melt beautifully if the sauce and noodles are served nice and hot.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Italian Tomato Paste Balls

adapted from The Joy of Cooking: "This flavorful paste is diluted in a little boiling water or stock and added to sauces and soups. Fine in spaghetti and noodle dishes, as a dressing for cooked vegetables or salads, and as an addition to salad dressings."

Haven't tried it in salad dressings . . . but these tomato paste balls pay back every bit of effort for the delicious & savory depth they add to tomato sauces.

Wash and cut into slices:
  • 1 & 1/2 pecks ripe Italian tomatoes (6 quarts)

  • 1 large celery rib, cut up with some leaves
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh herbs: basil, thyme, sweet marjoram, or oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 12 cloves
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 two-inch stick cinnamon
  • 1 minced clove of garlic

Simmer these ingredients until the tomatoes are soft.

Stir frequently. Put the vegetables through a fine sieve.

Simmer the sieved pulp in an uncovered slow cooker. Stir frequently.

 When the pulp is thick and reduced by half, spread the paste to a depth of 1/2 inch on moist plates.

Cut into the paste to let air penetrate. Place the paste in a 200 degree oven to dry.

When the paste is dry enough, roll it into balls and dip in olive oil. Store refrigerated in airtight sterile jars--taking care to remove one at a time with a clean utensil as needed.