Some of our faithful readers have commented lately on our use of the first person plural in all of our posts. “We” did this and “we” like that. This post will be the first time that is not the case.
So who are we?
We are indeed a team in the kitchen. But only one of us actually calls the shoe box “home” . . . for now.
That is all going to change a week from today, though, when my beautiful kitchen teammate walks down the aisle and becomes my wife. “Food discoveries we make in my small kitchen” will soon become “food discoveries we make in our small kitchen.”
I am extremely blessed. My teammate in the kitchen is going to be my teammate in life. And it will be really nice to have her and her culinary skills (and quite a few pairs of shoes, an inordinate amount of coats, several hundred pounds of stationery, and various other ancillaries) take up permanent residence in the shoe box.
Sorry if that got a bit mushy – I tried to temper the cheese with a bit of stereotype humor.
So who are we?
We’re Jason & Anne. We love to cook together. We can’t wait to do life together. And maybe someday, we’ll open a bakery.
But this is a food blog, right? Enough about us – on to the food.
Of course that personal preface was not without purpose. This easy and delicious Italian meal was the first that Anne and I shared in the shoe box kitchen. I whipped this up on one of our first dates, no doubt with the unapologetically obvious intention to impress her with my culinary skills. However, as you can see from the ingredients pictured above, this recipe is just too easy to be impressive. It’s a good thing that simple so often equals delicious in the world of food.
So what are we making? A traditional and richly flavorful Italian marinara sauce to be served over your favorite pasta. This recipe comes from my dad, who calls this his “Quick Sauce.” “Quick” because our family grew up eating another spaghetti sauce that simmers half the day on the stove. We’ll share that old family recipe in a future post.
For this quick sauce, you need just about an hour and a half.
First, mince 4-8 cloves of garlic (use 4 if you just like garlic, use 8 if you really love garlic) and sauté in a large fry pan over medium-high heat until the garlic takes on a roasted essence (this is just before it starts to burn). Then, stir in 28 oz of canned diced tomatoes (we like the organic brand at Trader Joe’s, but Cook’s Illustrated rated Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes (NOT Petite Diced) the best canned tomatoes out of 16 brands tested).
Next add one cup of red wine and half a stick of butter. Stir constantly until the mixture comes up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Let the sauce simmer for about half an hour, stirring every 5 minutes or so, then add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (start with a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper, then add more to your liking).
About 15 minutes later, chop up and mix in about a handful of fresh basil leaves. Let the sauce continue to simmer until it starts to become thicker and almost chunky. This consistency is usually achieved after about an hour total of simmering, and looks like this:
At this point, the flavors will start to concentrate very nicely. The aromatic punch of the garlic will be in the foreground, followed by the sweetness of the tomatoes and basil.
We served our sauce over some organic spaghetti noodles and topped it with some freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese. We also baked some homemade whole wheat french bread so that we’d have something with which to sop up the sauce (more on the french bread in a future Test Kitchen post).
This simple and rich sauce makes for the foundation of a great Italian date night meal.
And . . . single guys, it might just land you a wife.
Date Night Marinara Sauce for Two
- 28 oz of canned diced tomatoes
- 1/2 stick of butter
- large handful of fresh basil leaves
- 5-8 cloves of garlic
- olive oil for sauteing
- 1 cup of red wine
- salt and pepper, to taste