To commemorate the birthday of Vegetable Japan and one solid year's worth of writing for me, a minor miracle if there ever was one, I offer this little recipe for the Best Tomato Sauce on the Planet. Now that's a big claim, I know, and maybe just a bit capricious since I haven't tasted every sauce in the world. But I have tasted quite a few, and even made a few hundred kilos, or close, when I worked in the kitchen of a small Italian restaurant /deli a few years back. So I have some idea of the claim I'm making. And it's not my brainchild, but adapted just a bit from the Foods of the World Italian Cookbook, one of a series which in my opinion are still genius cookbooks. I collect every one I can get my hands on, which is less easy as they've been out of print awhile. And now you know too.
You can trust me when I say this one is good. Perfect for tossing on any shaped pasta from capellini to rigatoni -- fresh pasta, dry pasta, any good pasta will do.
And it's not complicated. It doesn't take exotic ingredients or hours of simmering, which some insist on, but I feel is overkill. It can be made with canned tomatoes in the winter and still be quite a treat.
It's fabulous on pizza. You can dress it up by adding any sauteed ingredients you like. A few mushrooms, some eggplant, zucchini, or a spoon or two of cream. You can certainly top it with some parmesan or other cheese, and it goes well in a lasagna or casserole.
It would be equally good smeared on a bit of bread, topped with a smidge of cheese and toasted to make a quick snack. In other words, it's versatile as all get out. There's only one thing to remember about it; it's fairly concentrated in flavour so don't use too much. Be judicious and then add more if you like.
Now to tell the truth, today I had the hankering for pasta, some nice gluten-free brown rice spaghetti sent over awhile back by the lovely and generous Seamaiden of Book of Yum, which is also having a first birthday this week. Happy Birthday, Book of Yum and Seamaiden! May the good food, and you, continue long and prosper.
On a day like this, the only thing better than one pasta is two. So while I had a Pasta Vesuvio, with tons of garlic, dried hot Japanese peppers, shitake mushrooms, baby eggplant and potatoes cooked up in olive oil for brunch, I found that was none too hard to take and I felt like even more pasta for supper. So I made this sauce with some fresh tomatoes I was lucky enough to find at the farmer's market this week. I'm sure they must be the very last ones in Kagawa. Topped with just a bit of grated parmesano reggiano from the Le Plaisir shop around the corner and a slurp of good-tasting olive oil from the same place (about the only two imported things I use now, when can't get local) it made the meal into a celebration.
So here you are, a gift from Vegetable Japan to you on this blog birthday. Add it to your stand-by recipe arsenal, and lean on it in good cooking times and bad. It can stand up to that. It's always been a rock for me.
3 Tb olive oil (I use extra virgin in this sauce)Add and cook, stirring for about a minute:
1 cup or thereabouts small-chopped onions
1 Tb or 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped finelyAdd 4 cups fresh, blended tomatoes or 4 cups canned Italian-style with juice, chopped
1 - 6 oz. tin of tomato pasteSimmer for about 30 minutes or less until the flavours combine and mellow. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
2 tsp sugar
1 Tb salt
1 tsp dry basil
1 Tb. dry oregano
1 bay leaf
freshly ground pepper
Enjoy in any creative way you can imagine, once or twice a day.