Spicy Tomato Sauce

Spicy tomato sauce by Wendy ingorvaiaAnybody who knows me knows how much I love to cook Italian food.  While red sauce often feels like a cliche, there are plenty of fun ways you can explore with it, and it’s delicious!  It might sound difficult and labor-intensive, but the basic structure of tomato sauce is actually pretty simple!  Here is a recipe I found online for spicy tomato sauce.  It’s absolutely delicious, so if you’re up for some Italian cooking get out your saucepan!

Ingredients:

Olive oil

1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, diced

1 tsp ground oregano

1 tsp red chili flakes

¼ cup fresh chopped parsley

¼ cup freshly chopped basil

28 oz can of strained or diced tomatoes

2 fresh tomatoes, cut up

Dark Belgian-style beer

Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Directions:

Heat up ¼ cup of olive oil in a saucepan

Add in the chopped onions and sauté for a few minutes, until they begin to appear translucent

Add diced garlic and sauté with the onions

Add fresh and dried herbs, then mix it all together with a wooden spoon

Add in the fresh tomatoes and let the mixture cook down for a couple minutes

Add in the can of strained tomatoes, in addition to a couple generous pours of beer

Bring the sauce to a boil and add salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Reduce the sauce to a simmer for at least an hour and a half (or more, if you’d like)

While the sauce is cooking, be sure to taste frequently to see if anything needs to be added

When it’s ready to eat, serve the sauce however you’d like: with pasta, on pizza or maybe with chicken parmesan!

Italian Torte

Italian torte by Wendy IngorvaiaItalian torte is a unique and interesting mix of pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and cream cheese, which is formed into a torte-like dome.  It isn’t a “traditional” Italian dish, but it’s delicious, and a good bit of fun.  Here is how you can make it, based off a recipe I found online:

Ingredients:

3 oz sun-dried tomatoes

16 oz softened cream cheese

1 minced clove of garlic

10 slices provolone cheese

8 ounces pesto

 

Directions:

Bring a small saucepan of water to boil

Turn off the heat and place sun-dried tomatoes in the water and cover for 5 minutes before draining and finely chopping

Mix cream cheese and garlic in a medium bowl

Line a medium bowl or loaf pan with a large piece of dampened cheesecloth and layer with ⅓ of the provolone cheese

Spread with half the pesto and pour in one half of the cream cheese/garlic mixture

Layer with half of the sundried tomatoes

Layer with ⅓ the provolone and remaining pesto, cream cheese/garlic mixture and sun-dried tomatoes before topping with the remaining provolone cheese

Pull the cheesecloth around the layered mixture and gently press into a bowl to mold and remove any excess oil

Chill in the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours, remove cheesecloth and turn the torte upside-down onto a large dish to serve

Cooking Homemade Pasta

You can always get pasta pre-made at the store, and usually it isn’t half bad.  But what if you want to make it yourself?  Thankfully, it doesn’t require any special ingredients or equipment to make, and the results tend to be quite tasty.  I recently came across an article with the necessary steps to create your own pasta, listed here:

1. Start your dough

Wendy Ingorvaia flour bowl

When it comes to ingredients, all you need for egg pasta is flour, salt, eggs and olive oil.  Start by whisking together 2 cups of flour and ½ teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour, and add three large eggs and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  If you want to add some extra flavors to your pasta, then you should mix them in with the flour and salt before you add the eggs.

2. Whisk & knead the dough

Wendy Ingorvaia whisk

Whisk the eggs and oil in a fork, slowly incorporating some of the flour from around the edges as you go.  Once the dough becomes too thick to whisk with a fork, then turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, along with any leftover flour from the bowl.  Knead the dough and remaining flour until you have a smooth, stiff ball of dough.

3. Let the dough rest

Wendy Ingorvaia resting dough

Wrap the dough loosely with plastic, and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.  If necessary, you can also store the dough in a refrigerator for up to a day.

4. Divide the dough

Wendy Ingorvaia divide

Once you’re ready to make your pasta, then divide the dough into four smaller portions.  Work with one portion at a time.  To prevent the other portions of dough from drying out, cover them with plastic until you’re ready to tackle them.

5. Roll the dough

Wendy Ingorvaia roll the dough

Generously dust the dough with flour before you flatten it into a rectangular shape with your hands.  Once you’ve flattened it, start to roll the dough into a long, thin sheet, dusting with flour on both sides as you progress.  Roll the pasta as thin as possible, keeping in mind that it will plump considerably when cooked.

6. Slice noodles

Wendy Ingorvaia slice noodles

Once again, generously dust the pasta with flour, and then fold it into a wide, flat roll.  Folding a pasta into a flat roll instead of simply rolling it up into a tube will help prevent it from being squashed as it’s cut.  Once you’ve rolled it, use a sharp knife to cut the pasta into strips.

7. Loosen the noodles

Wendy Ingorvaia loosen noodles

Shake the cut pasta strands into a loose pile and dust it with flour.  At this point, the pasta can be dropped into boiling water to cook, or can also be piled onto a baking sheet into single portions and frozen.  If you’re freezing your pasta, then transfer the individual frozen pasta nests to an air-tight freezer bag for storage.  To dry this frozen pasta, hang the strands through a hanger over a clothes drying rack, or over the back of a chair in a cool, dry place.  Once the pasta’s dry and brittle, it can be stored in an air-tight container.

8. Cook the pasta

Wendy Ingorvaia cook the pasta

Keep in mind that fresh or fresh-frozen pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta.  A quick three- or four-minute boil in lightly salted water is all that’s needed for a plateful of homemade pasta.