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Friday, March 11, 2011

Meatless Friday #1

I've prepared plenty of meals without meat, with no stress involved.  Then why do I feel sort of panicked and indecisive on Fridays during Lent when planning meatless meals?

The only answer I have is that I prefer to do something when I want to do it rather than be told that I have to do it.

The following recipe is one of my favorite tomato sauces, no meat involved, and at the top of my go-to list for a Lenten Friday night.

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 (28 oz) can Tomato Sauce (plain, no flavoring added)
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • fresh basil, shredded
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated or shredded
  • 1 pound of your favorite pasta
Dice the onion and peel the garlic.

How do you peel your garlic?  Some people use a little tube that they put the garlic in and roll it around and the peel comes off.

I like to smash it.  Just put your clove on the cutting board, cover it with the flat blade of your knife, make a fist and pound the knife with your fist.  This will smash the clove; now just grab the skin and lift it off.

Heat a medium saucepan on medium heat.  Add the oil.  When the oil gets hot, add the onion and garlic (I crush the garlic directly into the pan). 
Stir the onions and garlic around for a minute or two, until they start sizzling.
Then add the tomato sauce.
Grind in some pepper, and if you feel you must add salt, now would be the time.  I don't think this sauce needs sugar, so I didn't list it in the ingredients; but if you like to add a bit of sugar to your sauce (to cut down on the acidity), you could do that now.  Or some grated carrots or sweet potatoes would also do the trick. 

Stir the sauce until it starts to bubble.  Then reduce the heat, cover, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta according to package directions.

Time to shred your basil, and if your cheese isn't already grated/shredded, take care of that now.

To quickly shred your basil,  take your leaves.....

.....pile 'em up and slice 'em.  If you want to get fancy and call it a chiffonade, roll them up instead of piling them and slice them really thin.

I like them sliced a bit thicker.

Shred your cheese.....

........and drain your pasta.  You might want to save a bit of the starchy pasta water just in case you need to thin the sauce down a bit.  This hardly ever happens , but sometimes it gets too thick when it simmers and a little bit of pasta water works wonders to bring it back.

By now your sauce has thickened and turned a deeper red.  Remove the sauce from the heat.

Stir in the cream.

As you stir, your sauce will change from red.... a yummy orange.  If you really like a creamy sauce, you can add more cream.  And if your waistline can stand it, use heavy cream instead of light cream.  Lucky you.

Stir in the basil.  If everyone in your family likes cheese, add a bit of cheese to the sauce now.  As much as you like.  If your family is like mine, with some family members who don't like cheese, you will have to wait until you put the pasta on your plate to add the cheese.  And then you can use as much as you like.


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