Italian food is my very favorite. I don’t cook it enough; not sure why! Another goal of mine this year is to make homemade pasta. I’ve never attempted before, so any tips would be appreciated! In the meantime, I would like to share a recipe for my favorite part of Italian; red sauce.
It’s always a little different, depending on what I have on hand, but basically here it is:
Sauté an onion in olive oil until tender. Add about 1 cup chopped carrots and about 3-4 cloves minced garlic. Add lots of tomatoesJ. I typically add about 4 cans with juices (or fresh in the summer, when they are tasty); sometimes I just use salt free diced, sometimes stewed, or fire roasted (Muir Glen is the brand I prefer). Then, I season it all with whatever sounds good… usually some pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, maybe some paprika and red pepper flakes if I want it a little spicy. (If using fresh herbs, don’t add those yet). Put 1 can of tomato paste in and stir well. Then put some chicken broth in; if you like a thick, rich sauce just add about ¼ cup; if you like thinner, runnier sauce add more. Stir this all together and let it simmer for a while; the longer the better- I usually let it go for about 1 hour to marry all the flavors. When ready, add any fresh herbs, maybe a little more dried if you aren’t using any fresh to give it ‘layers’ of flavor. Finally, blend together! An immersion blender works wonders for this, so you don’t have to pour and splatter tomatoes all over yourself.
PS- I sometimes use this to make tomato soup, as well. For that, I just take the leftover marinara sauce, add some chicken broth and let it simmer (along with any other flavors, maybe some more garlic or spice). Stir in some plain yogurt for creaminess; I use 1-2 spoonfuls.
Stir together fresh bread crumbs, diced sweet potatoes (or carrots), onions, and garlic. Season the mixture with cilantro, paprika, chili powder, pepper and chipotle Tabasco sauce. Add 1 whisked egg and 1 ½ pounds of meat. Shape into balls and cook about 30 minutes on 350. For stuffed meatballs, just shape into a flat disk and put a ball of cheese in the center (goat and mozzarella work great). Then mold the meat around the cheese, adding more as needed to fill in gaps. Squeeze it to form, and bake for about 40 minutes.
For the sauce, I just mixed together some tomato paste and basil pesto. You could also top with a meatloaf sauce or marinara!
These dishes are a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet! Both recipes have some carrots or sweet potatoes along with tomatoes. Don’t be afraid to stir in some chopped spinach!