While not nearly as bad as the uncooked chicken episode of years ago, last night I undercooked eggplant and onions that were intended to be the base for a red sauce. This means that instead of flavorful eggplant and sweet-tasting onions, you get boiled vegetables that add zero flavor to the final product. Last night, my husband started the rescue process. Let’s hope he succeeds so that I didn’t waste the normally delicious Italian eggplants and two cans of plum tomatoes.
Update: Okay, the red sauce was ‘saved’ with more peperoncini, some sugar, white wine and just cooking the hell out of it. After hours of cooking, the sauce had a nice, rich texture and the eggplant and onions were fine. Next time I have to be more patient!
To the surprise of most, we rarely eat red sauce in the Oil and Garlic household. Food blog readers may not be that surprised but most people I know equate Italian food with lots of pasta drenched in red sauce and don’t know about regional food differences. It’s not that we don’t like red sauces but we haven’t found any exceptional store-bought version. Plus it’s so easy to top pasta in other ways — with tuna; pecorino and olive oil; peperoncino; garlic and oil, and so on.
Since there are few ingredients, try to use the best possible tomato sauce you can find, ideally “pomodori pelati San Marzano” (San Marzano plum peeled tomatoes in tomato juice) from the Campania region (Naples or Salerno province).
San Marzano plum tomato sauce (1 can; Rega brand)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Onions (1 or half an onion)
Fine Sea Salt
Pasta (preferably spaghetti)
1 ) Chop and sauté the onions in a deep pot. When the onions are almost done, add in sliced garlic cloves. It is important not to overcook the garlic because it will get bitter and overwhelm the sauce.
2 ) Pour the tomato sauce into the same pot as the onions and garlic. While simmering, add some red wine, salt and chopped basil. Add in a teaspoon of sugar.
3 ) Let it simmer for at least 1 hour.
4 ) When sauce is close to ready, boil a pot of water and cook pasta as directed on the packaging.
Serve sauce over pasta and grated parmigano as the finishing touch. If you make a big batch, you can enjoy for at least 2 nights over your favorite pasta. My husband would also add that the right sauce/spaghetti ratio is just enough sauce to coat the pasta well but not so much that there is a ton of sauce left at the bottom of your plate when you have finished eating. In other words, don’t drench it!