I’m literally at a loss for wine topics to write about, although do check out the latest I cobbled together over at the Huffington Post on Organic Wine and the USDA’s inability to effectively regulate it.
Now, here’s a recipe for a really simple tomato sauce, with or without meat. Please note, I’m not Italian and I use mostly canned tomatoes. This is by no measure authentic.
1. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of good olive oil into a large pot–I use a Le Creuset “French Oven”–over medium heat.
2. Dice one medium onion and sautee until tender–do not brown.
3. Add three cloves of garlic, chopped.
4. If desired, add one pound Italian sausage (casing removed), ground beef, or ground turkey. Brown the meat.
5. Season the onions, garlic and meat (if included) with salt, fresh black pepper, and several liberal pinches of dried oregano and basil.
6. Once the vegetables are tender and the meat is browned, add a quarter cup of good dry white wine–this is perhaps the most important step. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or virtually any Spanish, Portuguese or Italian white wine will do the trick. As you add the wine, deglaze the pan by scraping it vigorously with a wooden spoon.
7. Optional: I like to add a few fresh tomatoes into the mix if I have them. Adding fresh tomatoes to an otherwise can-based sauce is a great way to use up tomatoes that are about to take a turn. Coarsely chop two large or four small tomatoes and add to the pot.
8. Let the wine simmer with the vegetables for a minute or two and then add 1 large (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes, 1 medium (14 oz.) can of diced tomatoes, 1 small (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce and 1 small (6 oz.) can of tomato paste. I typically use plain organic canned tomato products from Fresh & Easy, although fire roasted diced tomatoes can be a nice addition.
9. Bring the sauce to a brief boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for at least an hour, the longer the better. Taste the sauce periodically and adjust seasonings as needed. I prefer a tart sauce, but if you want to take the edge off the acidity, add a small amount of good brown sugar.
10. Chop about a 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley. When the sauce is ready to serve, remove from heat and stir the parsley into the sauce.
11. Serve with fresh or dried pasta, over chicken or with cooked grains like couscous or quinoa. This recipe makes a big batch of sauce, but it will keep refrigerated for a while. Or, use that fancy freezer of yours and surprise the kids with really weird popsicles.