Pasta week is once a semester, and it’s super fun.
On Monday we make the sauce, Tuesday the meatballs (both 40 min. classes) and on the block day we make our homemade pasta and eat it all together (that is our 80 min. block).
Do you call it gravy or sauce? I grew up calling it sauce. Turns out its one of those “lost in translation” things. “Sugo” in Italian meant a sauce simmered with meat. It got translated to “gravy” because of the whole meat influence. “Salsa” in Italian was just veggie-based, and got translated to “sauce”. Talk to an Italian though, and they will vehemently defend whatever term they grew up with.
I will stick with sauce since we make it without meat and just add in the meatballs later.
OK! Disclaimer, this is not the sauce I make at home. I like to simmer my sauce at home for a few hours, whereas this has to be made in less than 40 min. It probably only sees about a half hour of simmer time, total. For this reason we use a good amount of tomato paste as well as some sugar (sugar off-sets the acidity in the tomatoes). Usually that sweetness would develop over the hours of simmer, but we fake it since its a quick sauce. This is a GREAT quick sauce though, and whenever I eat it I wonder why I labor over the stove all those hours at home?
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ c. onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ¼ c. crushed tomatoes
4 oz tomato paste (about a full 1/3 c. )
½ c. water
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 ½ tsp. Italian seasoning *See note at bottom of post
1 tsp. sugar
*At home I use Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes. America’s Test kitchen says they are the best and they are much cheaper than San Marzano, which is obviously great as well. Know whats even cheaper than Tuttorosso? Genuardi’s brand. And since I shop on the school budget that is what I go with for this school sauce. Still tastes great!
*And onion? I grabbed sweet onions as they were on sale. You could use white, sweet, yellow, whatever, but just not red. Flavor is just a little different.
The first thing I demo is how to properly and quickly dice the onion. The only way to avoid the eye burning is to use a sharp knife and to work quickly! Cut that onion in half from the root end to the pointy-ish top. Take one half and place it, cut side down and peeled.
1. Make horizontal cuts, NOT all the way through to the root, about every half inch up from the bottom.
2. Next, cut vertically down, with the tip of the knife pointing toward that root. Make these slices (again, not all the way through) every half inch.
3. Now, make vertical cuts the other way (knife tip pointing at a 90 degrees from the root end). As you cut through, the onion will fall away in a nice small dice!
Nice pink nails, Lily! Seriously, great color.
You can also mince your garlic and chop your parsley. This kitchen had the right idea!
Oh geez, except mince your garlic finer than that.
Next, heat oil in large sauce pan; add onions, cook until partially soft. We are sweating the onions here. When we sweat we got hot and release liquid, right? When you sweat onions you are allowing them to release liquid and soften. That is why salt is often added at this point: it helps the veggies release their liquid!
Add garlic. Now, people, if your garlic burns you need to START OVER because it will throw off the whole sauce. Seriously. Stir your garlic constantly and when you smell the garlicky deliciousness and see that it MAY be starting to brown SLIGHTLY (maybe 30 seconds?), move on to the next step.
Oh, so you have to have the next step ready! The next step is the most EASY step. Combine the rest of your ingredients and dump them in the saucepan!
Pasta sauce red! My fave color! Now I have them put their sauce in Tupperware because class is over. Tomorrow we plunk in our meatballs, and the bulk of the simmering happens on their block day with their meatballs in the sauce.
If you make this at home I would let it simmer gently (little bubbles breaking surface gently, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t catch) for about 15 minutes, then enjoy! Its great on pasta, as a pizza sauce, for chicken parm or eggplant parm.. etc. I know there are some great jarred sauces out there but this is honestly quite easy.
*What is Italian seasoning, by the way? Its awesome. Basically its a mix of dried herbs that typically flavor Italian foods. It contains marjoram, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, savory, and oregano. Our sauce is now DYNAMIC because it’s influenced by all these flavors (but you only had to buy 1 container!).
See you tomorrow for meatballs!