Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bella Notte Red Sauce

Valentine's spirit started to fly around here when I was watching a commercial break reminding me of the cuteness of The Lady and The Tramp. And that Bella Note song, and ... the unforgettable night of two dogs and one plate. But neither the pasta nor the meatballs triggered my disposition to run to the kitchen. The red sauce actually was the one to make me go to Trader Joe's, as fast as I could.

Of course the Italian chef of the movie would never make that sauce from cans or jars, right?

Before this, I tried many recipes for a tasty tomato sauce, but none was good enough to make me forget about the tomato pelatti  from Italy ready to be prepared in my kitchen. Or the sometimes delicious ready-made sauces that abound in the shelves of Trader Joe's.

This sauce made my kids happy and they were fascinated to see the once-upon-a-time tomatoes turned into sauce by being processed with an old-school food mill. I used organic tomatoes from Mexico — a shorter trip to California than the Italian ones from a can. Can't wait for the tomato season to start here as I am daydreaming about a sauce made of heirloom tomatoes. Then I will happily repeat this recipe of homemade pasta here: Semolina and Farro Togliolini.

This recipe was inspired by Alton's Brown roasting method. I hope this will inspire you too. I always think that there's no trouble on the comfort brought from food. But when made from scratch, the red sauce will maybe bring romantic notes to your table, or maybe just the feeling that you've traveled to Italy — or whatever inspirations suit your Valentine's dreams.

Red Sauce Bella Notte

There's a big debate about seeds, peels and tomatoes when making tomato sauce. I tested with and without seeds, and the results were very similar. I also read that what really matters is the pot material: Some advocate the use of non-reactive materials such as tempered glass or enamel. THis time I used pyrex and a Le Creuset baking dish. Some believe that there's no need to worry about seeds, and that the nonnas in old Italy will cook good tomato sauce in any pot, with lots of love. 

4 pounds roma tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic (if you find the giant garlic from California, even better)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Garlic-infused olive oil to drizzle
Kosher salt to taste
Oregano, to taste
Thyme, to taste
4 bay leaves
Fresh basil to garnish (optional)
1/2 cup of wine (optional, your choice of red or white)
Caramelized yellow onion to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 F. Coat baking dishes with olive oil. Halve tomatoes and put them with the open side facing up on the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, herbs and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for two hours, checking and turning after the first hour. After two hours raise the oven temperature to 400 F and roast for about 15 to 30 minutes more.

Remove and process the tomatoes with a food mill to get rid of skins and seeds. It's possible to do this with a sieve, pressing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. (I used seeds and skins to make a topping for a bruschetta.)

Heat the sauce in a saucepan and add wine. Cook on high heat for about 3 minutes, and simmer for about 7 minutes more. Adjust salt and other spices if you need to. If you need a little bit of sweetness added, half a teaspoon of raw sugar will do the trick.

1 comment:

Myrna said...

The lovely photo makes it difficult to resist to this dish, and recalling the Lady and the Tramp triggers a need to run for the ingredients, to make it as fast as possible - of course choosing a good wine to go together.
And I loved the title of the recipy!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...