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Sunday, January 29, 2006

IMBB #22 (Using My Noodle) - Weeknight Tomato Sauce

I love noodles, in just about any form. They are definitely one of my favorite comfort foods. I have branched out from the spaghetti-and-meatballs and mac cheese/mac salad of my childhood into all sorts of international noodle territory and I don't think I've met one I haven't liked. So I was glad when I learned of Amy's theme for IMBB #22.

I had grand visions of whipping up some Pad Thai, but in the end went back to what for me has become a weeknight favorite when I am in need of comfort and sustenance: my weeknight tomato sauce, courtesy of the fabulous guide to getting dinner on the table day in and day out,How to Cook without a Book.

It was cold and wet here in Northern California, I was tired after a heavy week at work, and I had some red bell peppers (left over from the hummus I had made for my class) and some Calabrese sausage from The Fatted Calf. Within the hour (given some time for netsurfing) I had an extremely satisfying dinner.

comfort food

The key to having tomato sauce without simmering for hours is to keep a good brand of crushed tomatoes in your pantry. Saute an aromatic (onion or garlic), add an ingredient (bell peppers, hydrated dried mushrooms, ...) or two, season to taste, put the tomatoes in and simmer it down a little bit.

pantry staple

(Progresso is a good brand of tomatoes as well.)

Weeknight Tomato Sauce with Bell Peppers, Olives, and Sausage

1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 links (about 8 oz) spicy Italian sausage, cut into rounds
3 red bell peppers, cut in strips
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Fresh oregano
1/2 cup mixed pitted olives

Your favorite kind of noodles, cooked to taste - I am a big fan of rotelle and farfalle. I ignore the guides that suggest 2-3 oz per serving; four oz. uncooked is more my usual portion.

Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Heat a little oil in a Dutch oven and saute the onions and sausage together. Add the peppers 5 minutes later (this is a good point to start the water for dried pasta). Saute for about 10 min total.

2. Add the garlic and heat for 1 minute more.

3. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and olives.

4. Simmer this down for about 20 minutes or until it looks the right consistency.

5. Serve over the cooked noodles, with Parmesan. This makes enough for four hearty servings.

I'm looking forward to a different sort of noodly goodness this coming week - a vendor at the market had both green pea and porcini mushroom pasta, which I couldn't resist. I'll probably eat them my favorite way - with butter and parmesan only.

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Comments:
I love the muirglen tomato cans. Have you tried their fire-roasted tomatoes? I've done pizza sauce with a mixture of plain and fire-roasted, and was wondering if you had any experience with fire-roasted toms in pasta sauce... too strongly smoky, perhaps?
 
I haven't used them in pasta sauce ... the FR are usually smaller cans so go in my soup. There were FR crushed for sale at my grocery but they were $1 more so I passed ;-).
 
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