Monday, September 20, 2010
The Tomato Sauce of Legend
This tomato sauce is absolutely the stuff of legend. In fact, I would like to start a legend about it...maybe that will be my next project - dabbling in the world of non-fiction...as in, "this is a truth-fact: this tomato sauce is LEGENDARY!"
Ok, seriously - this is a fabulous tomato sauce and it really is very simple and easy to make. I used it in this simple wholegrain baked penne. Try it - I hope you find it as amazingly delicious as we did!
Baked Penne with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 2 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- dried basil
- 1 lb. penne
- 5 oz. baby spinach (whole leaves, uncooked)
- 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan until just warmed, then add the garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook until softened and infused - about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the crushed tomatoes and break up the whole tomatoes with your hands before stirring them into the sauce. Then add in the vinegar, salt and pepper and plenty of basil (probably 2 tbsp.) - simmer the sauce on low, stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and add your wholegrain penne. You want to cook it to just about al dente. For me it took about 12 minutes. Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot. Then add the sauce to it, tossing until well coated. This is the part where it really smells amazing!
4. Next you want to add in your baby spinach. If you don't like the longer stems on the leaves, just trim them down before adding them to the pasta. You want to stir gently, tossing it with the pasta and sauce until it is just wilted.
5. Spray a 13x9 baking pan (I used glass) lightly with cooking spray to keep the pasta from sticking, then spread half of it in an even layer. Sprinkle half the mozzarella cheese on top.
6. Spread the rest of the pasta on top of the cheese, then top with the rest of the mozzarella and finish by sprinkling on the parmesan! Pop it in the oven uncovered for 15-20 minutes until it is bubbling and starting to brown.
Then sit back, relax and enjoy an amazing meal! We served it with a fresh romaine/baby spinach salad and warm wholegrain garlic bread...dipped in olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper of course! It was exactly the kind of meal you want to slow down and enjoy with your family. The weather here has been perfect (65-75, sunny, breezy and low humidity) so we've been really enjoying eating dinner together out on the porch. Try the tomato sauce and let me know what you think! I can't wait to infuse it into other new recipes...