Friday, June 30, 2017

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

Coming from an Italian heritage, with real homegrown, canned gravy (Italians call red pasta sauce gravy), I am a bit choosy about what I put on top of pasta. Each year I plant the herbs and veggies I intend to use for my homemade sauce. This is a more traditional red sauce, that once cooked down, I freeze until ready to use.

Since pasta is a staple meal in our home, I usually run out of frozen sauce long before my own garden produce is ready. This Fresh Spaghetti Sauce fills in the gap.

Fresh Sauce is best when made about an hour before you intend to use it. This provides some time for the flavors to mingle together, and it cuts down on the zap from the garlic. You can whip it up while you're waiting for your pasta water to boil though, if you are short on time.

Fresh herbs are the best to use, but if there is no fresh to be found, you can substitute dried. You can also adjust the quantities to taste.

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

4-5 Roma Tomatoes, skinned and diced (I never bother with skinning my tomatoes and no one has noticed! You can use a beefier, juicier tomato also)
2 cloves Garlic, minced (I use a garlic press)
3/4 can of whole Black Olives, chopped
3/4-1 c. Olive Oil
Oregano, or 3-4 bunches, minced (use about 1-2 tsp. dried, or to taste)
Sweet Basil, 4-5 very large leaves, minced (use about 1-2 tsp dried, or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
                                                                 Optional: Fresh Fennel Leaf; Balsamic Vinegar (2 T.) for cold salad

Place all prepared herbs and veggies in a bowl. Pour olive oil over the top. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. That's it! Once your spaghetti has finished cooking, stir the sauce again and then spoon over the top of your pasta. The warmth from the pasta will help release the flavors of the sauce.

This recipe, plus 1 pound of spaghetti feeds my family of 3 dinner, plus leftovers. We prefer this as a hot pasta dish, but it can be made ahead and used as a cold pasta salad with the addition of the Balsamic Vinegar, just prior to the olive oil, and changing to Rotini. Chill and serve.

I have been asked about the quantities provided. This recipe is essentially just a guideline. Adjusting it does not really affect anything other than flavor and quantity of sauce. A beefier tomato will provide more juice and may require more frequent stirring to prevent separation from the oil. I tend to use less olive oil, as I just don't think it needs that much. (Of course, I also don't use a recipe anymore when I make this!)

You can leave out the salt if you are on a low-sodium diet, and increase the amount of herbs. You can add in a tiny bit of fresh fennel leaf for a truer traditional red sauce flavor. You could even mince up some fresh spinach leaves and toss them in! The kids will never know!

Towards the end of our summer growing season, this is also a great recipe for those last few garden veggies you have. Occasionally during the winter months I will make some just for a taste of fresh vegetables since the grocery store always has fresh veggies.

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