Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Penne with Homemade tomato sauce

This is a quick and easy recipe, or a non-recipe really. This is just a notch above boiling ramen noodles or maggi, I think, something that can easily be made even in a dorm room or during Exams week when time is really 'of the essence'. I seem to be caught in a nostalgic moment here, since I am shooting off analogies about the good old school days:).

The star of this recipe is the tomatoes. I have used fresh desi tomatoes or 'Indian' or 'gavran' tomatoes, as some people are wont to call them. This is the original variety of tomato, I think, that we grew up eating, and is miles away from the roma, vine ripe, heirloom or any other western variety. This is also totally different from the Italian 'sweet' tomatoes. I am using these for a slightly different taste/flavour and also because I found them very cheap like 10 rupees a kilo, which a very rare occurrence. Needless to say, this recipe can be followed exactly using Any available tomato, or canned crushed tomatoes or Italian stewed tomatoes that you get in a can. It will remain as easy, or perhaps easier. I use a little milk and some sugar to reduce the acid/tang, since these particular tomatoes tend to be quite sour. Any dry spice mix can be used, like Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic, one of my favourite blends, or just plain dried basil/orgeno/rosemary. I am using Herb de Provence. The recipe or method follows.

This is simple sans veggies, but feel free to add any vegetable etc. that you like to up the ante here.

Ingredients -

10-12 fresh tomatoes

1 onion diced

1 Tbsp garlic chopped

1 tsp dried herbs

2 cups dry penne

1 Tbsp EVOO or olive oil

salt and pepper

Method -

1) Stew, boil or pressure cook the tomatoes until they are completely cooked and the skin starts to come off.

2) After they cool a bit, pull off the skins and squash the tomatoes with hand, or with a masher. You can strain this if you want a super fine sauce, but I like it chunky and rustic, and so leave it the way it is.

3) Chop the onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic first. The heat should be very low so that the garlic does not burn. The lower the temperature, the more flavour is released by the garlic. As the garlic starts changing colour, add the onions.

4) Saute until onions soften and add the squashed tomatoes. **This is where you add your can of crushed or italian tomatoes if you are using canned ones.

5) Season the sauce with the dried herbs of choice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer. 6) Simmer the sauce until it thickens and coats the spoon. Taste and guage the level of sourness. Add about half cup milk and 1-2 tsp of sugar or any sweetener. The amount of tang or sourness you want here is to your taste.

7) Boil water, salt it and add dry pasta. Cook according to given directions until al dente or slightly undercooked.

8) Drain the pasta and pour sauce over it a little at a time and mix. Add sauce until all the pasta is evenly coated but not to create a gravy like consistency. * If sauce remains, keep it on the side to add on top while eating as needed.

9) Serve hot with more fresh black pepper, and some fresh grated parmesan if desired.

10) I think adding crushed red pepper to this sauce will liken it to an Arrabiata, but I want to keep it simple and call it plain old tomato sauce. This sauce can be used as base for any kind of pasta.

I hope you try this simple recipe the next time you start defrosting that Lean Cuisine or open yet another pack of Ramen noodles.

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