Friday, September 2, 2011

Awesome Sauce: Weekend Culinary Adventure 2

So after the gastronomic misfire of Sunday's coleslaw, I really didn't feel like eating much.  But dinnertime rolled around, and Hungry Hungry Husband was, well, hungry.  I had raided the Oakland Farmers Market on Friday and came away with an array of vegetables.  Surveying them alongside a few ripe red and gold tomatoes from our garden, I figured the quickest route to dinner would be to chop everything up, cook it on the stove, and sling it over some pasta.

First I took a "before" picture, though:

Look at that beautiful produce!  Plum, lemon, crim, and plain ol' red tomatoes; green, orange, and purple (yes, purple!) bell peppers, and a few other skinny peppers.  I started by blanching the tomatoes, as my cousin Jen taught me to do on her blog.  I highly suggest you check out Jen's delicious, gorgeous website, but preferably after you've already eaten.  Otherwise, your stomach will rumble at all the food and you'll end up drooling all over your keyboard.

"Blanching" is putting tomatoes into boiling water until their skins start to split, then plunging them into ice water to loosen the skins, making them slide off easily.  (I learned that crim tomatoes do not take well to blanching, however... one completely collapsed, but the other two made it into the sauce.)

While waiting for the water to boil those suckers, I got to work chopping peppers and onions in my super-fantastic Alaskan ULU, given to me by my dear friends Alexis and Will.  The bowl-shaped cutting board and rounded blade are great for chopping things quickly.

(and for intimidating people, because I've got a whompin' AXE in my hand!)

In no time I had a bowlful of vegetables, coinciding with the ice-bathing of the tomatoes.  I dumped the water from the hot pot as soon as the tomatoes were out of it, and put it back on the stove with a little olive oil.  In went the chopped vegetables, to cook and soften over medium-high heat while Husband skinned and chopped tomatoes.

I got pretty improvisational with the spices and herbs I added - plenty of chopped fresh basil from our garden, salt and fresh-ground pepper, a couple spoonfuls of roasted garlic, some generic Italian seasoning, rubbed thyme, and red pepper flakes.  I also learned something the last time I made tomato sauce -- adding a LITTLE bit of sugar cuts the bitterness that basil and tomatoes can create.  For the quantity of vegetables I used, three sugar cubes tossed into the pot did the trick nicely.

We added the tomatoes as soon as the peppers and onions softened, and we let everything simmer away while we boiled some penne on the neighboring burner.  By the time the pasta was done, the sauce was taste-able and ready to eat!

I was pleased to find that the whole process had actually given me an appetite!  We topped the bowls off with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, and I added more basil for an edible garnish.

Consider our coleslaw demons exorcised.  The power of Awesomesauce compelled it! =)

Have a terrific Labor Day weekend, everybody!  Do yourselves a favor -- get creative in your kitchen with some vegetables, and savor the taste of summer before September really kicks in.  Bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. Joy, this looks incredible and I'm so impressed that someone actually used a technique from my blog! Your words are so kind and I appreciate it. I'm especially glad you got a good meal out of the whole process, as well!