Back to Basics: Tomato Basil Garlic Pasta Sauce

Thursday, May 17, 2018

So among the things I've started buying less of is pasta sauce.  I've posted about my efforts to go "back to basics" and become more well rounded as a cook.  It's fine and dandy if you can whip up a fancy shmancy meal for a few guests, but if you don't understand the basics of cooking and the basics of developing a palate,  you'll be lost outside of your go-to recipes.  Learning how to make your owns sauces, broths, and other staples will also save you money.  I don't buy vegetable broth anymore.  I also don't buy as much pasta sauce (sometimes I'm tired, sue me).  Another perk is that you aren't getting the added sugar and sodium that is packed in pasta sauce.  Sauce in a jar is mostly awful for you, but I have found a few local brands that are pretty good for when I don't feel like boiling tomatoes.  Making your owns sauces, broths, and other basics is less wasteful as well.  You avoid the packaging from store bought, and you can toss all your old veggies that are about to turn in a pot for broth.  One of my goals right now is to reduce my waste by a LOT, and keeping glass jars full of sauces and broths is one way that I've found I can reduce the amount of trips I take to the garbage chute.

Photo courtesy of Monsieur Marcel
On Sundays Alex and I go to the LA Farmer's Market.  This is where we buy our produce for the week, get a chance to be outside, and form a relationship with our food.  The food that I make with the produce from the farmer's market is noticeably better than with produce from the grocery store (even from Whole Foods, it ain't that great).  My favorite places at the farmer's market are the produce stands of course, but also the Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market. Here, I get a lot of handmade pasta and specialty salts and spices.  They also have a fantastic wine selection (thought their bottles can get pricey pretty fast).  They have a lot of great housemate sauces here that are a really good alternative to making things yourself.  But this past weekend, I topped their pasta with a sauce of my own choosing.

I love experimenting with making my own sauces.  There's not a lot you can do to screw them up, honestly.  And as I always say, don't be afraid! It takes a LOT of trial and error to make your own sauce recipes, and find some creative ways to make it yours.  Here's one that I created on the fly last Sunday:

4-5 medium tomatoes
1 medium shallot, diced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, (this is garlic sauce after all, so don't be stingy) diced
Olive oil
handful of basil, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (sometimes I use himalayan sea salt, some times I use smokey black salt)

Fill a pot with enough water to cover the tomatoes, and salt.  Bring to a boil and add in the tomatoes.  Boil until the skin starts to peel off, then drain, rinse with cold water and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.  Peel off the skins, and slice them in half.  Spoon out the seeds and insides, only the outer flesh should be left.

Transfer these into a food processor, as well as the rest of the ingredients.  Add in the olive oil slowly, so that you don't oversaturate.  Puree until smooth, or to your desired texture (I like my sauce to be as pureed as possible, but I know some people who enjoy a chunkier sauce). Mix in with your fav pasta (picture here with Capricci). I also paired mine with some grilled broccolini and mushrooms with black truffle olive oil and for dessert, grilled peaches with olive oil and paprika.  It was one of the best meals I've ever had.

Et Voila! You have made pasta sauce!
It's great to make a ton of it and store it for later use.  You can even freeze it!
It's so good and super simple.
Let me know some of your experiments, I'd love to post them on my instagram!
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