Mmmmmmm, not to brag, (well, ok, it is to brag but that’s allowed in small amounts around here) but this sauce was SOOOOO good last night! I mean, I was ready to call Giada up (because I have her on speed-dial, don’t you?) and tell her to go ahead & retire because my skillz were going to put her skinny behind & big boobies out of business.
For this recipe I’ll show you how to make the sauce (and give you variations like a plain version or sweet basil) but also will take some shortcuts with pre-made meatballs & some quick garlic cheesy bread techniques. Also know that when I make homemade sauce I whip up a huge batch so I can freeze leftovers but feel free to cut down the recipe below if you want something smaller.
1 lg yellow onion- chopped
6 garlic cloves- chopped
2 280z cans of tomato sauce (also called tomato puree)
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (I like the ‘Cento’ brand)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Garlicky Spinach & Mushroom Version-
1 pack white button mushrooms- sliced
1 lg clove garlic- minced
2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves
Sweet Basil Version-
1 tsp dried basil (added with other dry seasonings)
1 handful of fresh basil leaves (torn, added at end. When you go to boil pasta…)
Garlic Cheesy Bread-
1 fresh baguette
1 garlic clove- skin removed, halved
Shredded Parm. Cheese
So let’s get started. In a large pot drizzle EVOO & over med-high heat saute onions & garlic until translucent. (5-7 min) Add all 3 large cans of tomatoes. (watch out, it’ll bubble up at you when you first add it to the hot pot) Stir well to combine sauces with all the yummy onion & garlic bits on the bottom. Add all your dry seasonings. Stir & simmer over med-low.
Meanwhile in a large skillet drizzle some more EVOO over med-high heat & add your minced garlic for the mushrooms. Give it a minute or two head start and then add sliced mushrooms. (by the way, never wash mushrooms, they won’t brown well. Just wipe off dirt with a dry paper towel) Cook stirring occasionally until mushrooms are soft & the edges are brown. (8-10 min) Add skillet contents to sauce pot.At the same time as the mushrooms I also cook my meatballs. I used to brown meatballs in a skillet until my mom showed me how much easier (and just as good) it was to brown them in the oven. Place them on an oiled baking sheet & bake at 475 degrees until well browned. (turn once during cooking, around 15 min in) Once browned add meatballs to your sauce & push them down so they’re well covered. At this point your sauce can sit & simmer (on low heat) in all of it’s yummy glory for as long as you like. A few hours or as little as 20 min. 10 minutes before serving add spinach leaves or torn basil leaves (depending on which sauce you’re making) so they’ll wilt but not get brown & mushy.
When you’re about ready to eat just boil your favorite pasta (I like linguine) & don’t forget to salt the water. While the water is heating up turn your broiler on for the garlic bread. Slice baguette in half (width-wise) & rub the bread well with half of a garlic clove, this will give it a hint of fresh garlic without being overwhelming. Next rub with butter & coat with parm cheese. Keep an eye on it under the broiler though, it’ll cook quick!! (I also don’t put my grate up next to the broiler, it burns too quickly, keep it in the middle of the oven)That’s it!
Oh wait, one more tip…I read a great tip in Better Homes & Garden’s this month (yes, I read BH&G, and no, I’m not 65) freeze your leftovers in individual portions. This way when you’re hungry for a quick lunch you’ll have your own, healthy, frozen meal ready to go! I separated the sauce into baggies, each with 2 meatballs & a big ladle of sauce. For lunch I’ll just boil up some noodles, defrost the baggie under hot water & be ready to go. (Have I mentioned yet that I’m determined NOT to gain as much weight this time? With Sam I ate whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. Maybe tips like this will help me stay in a healthy range…maybe.)