Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mamma's Hearty Pasta Sauce

*Veg variation provided*

I stopped buying ready-made Meat sauce after the second or the third time I bought a couple of brands home to try. I love my meat but hated the slight aftertaste I got in those store bought ones. I remember reading the label and getting spooked at "Artificial meat flavors" in the ingredient list. I didn't know back then how to make pasta sauce at home. And then my Sis-in-law, who is simply a Superwoman, showed me how to make pasta sauce at home, when I visited her in Chicago. And she was the one who told me I could make anything as long as I gave it a try. And then I perfected the pasta sauce, and then grew a little adventurous to try making a Meat sauce at Home. And this was the result. Blame it on my Indian taste-buds, I am programmed to make the meat always a little hot and spicy. But once you taste it, you will know, why I love it so.

*And for the vegetarians, substitute meat with 2 cups of sliced mushrooms like Portabellas and directly add with the onions and capsicums, skipping the browning and adding. Then also keep in mind to add just 1/2 tbsp of the herbs, keeping the rest of the ingredients the same. *
When you make pasta, drain it, and straight away, dump it into the hot sauce while the pasta is still hot. The hot pasta has the tendency to absorb more sauce. The olive oil in the sauce makes sure, it doesn't stick, at all.

Hearty Meat Sauce

Crushed Tomatoes---2 lbs. (Instead of canned, you can use about the same amount of Roma tomatoes. Peel them by dipping them in boiling water for abt 20 seconds, then shocking them in ice-cold water. The skin will peel right off. Chop finely.)
Onion--1 med. chopped
2 bell pepper/capsicums ---diced finely (green ones preferred)
Garlic---8-10 cloves, minced
Ground red meat/ turkey---1 lb
Ground red chili powder-- 1 tsp (optional--if you want the sauce mild, but I strongly recommend it)
Dry Basil and dry parsley--1 tbsp each
Crushed Fennel Seeds--1 teaspoon
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil--3 tbsp

Hearty Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Lightly pulse the tomatoes, in a blender so that its not too chunky. Alternately, you can add chopped tomatoes, if you prefer a rustic kind of sauce.
Heat the oil in a thick sauce pan. Saute the minced garlic and when they turn fragrant, add the onions and green capsicums. Lower the heat to a medium low. Add salt and pepper.

Meanwhile in another pan, brown the meat and drain the excess fat.
Add the meat to the vegetable mix and increase the heat to med-high. Add fennel seeds, basil, parsley and chili powder and mix well. When it starts to get real fragrant, add the tomatoes.
Bring the sauce to a boil, and reduce the fire to low. Now, cover it and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
After 45 minutes, the sauce should be thick and glossy. Adjust the salt an pepper.
Let it cool down. This sauce freezes very well. Make sure you simmer it for 10 minutes after thawing.
Enjoy with Spaghetti or any other pasta and also is great as a pizza sauce.

Note: You can add plenty of veggies to this sauce, when you add the onions. A good way to smuggle veggies if you have picky eaters. ;-)

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