Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pasta Pomodoro

One time, I was a freshman in college and it was only the 1st month. College was new and exciting and different, but oh man was the food situation dismal. So, I went to the closest supermarket, bought the ingredients for this sauce, started it up in the tiny little, communal kitchen in our dorm hall and sat down with a book in the adjacent common room. I knew few people at this point, but I met a lot of people that day. Because the sauce takes abut 30-45 minutes to reduce, the smell of homey, sweet, buttery tomatoes started to waft through the room and slowly down the hall. Boys I'd never seen before showed up, drawn by the smell and their stomachs, and girls who I'd only awkwardly made friendly hallway conversation with came in to see who was cooking and what it was. Later on down the road, this sauce was the first one my boyfriend learned to cook. And in my senior year, I made this same cheap and easy sauce for a huge group for less than 25 dollars.

I learned this sauce from my father, who got it from a book at some point but he's never used a recipe. We would eat it when I was a kid and it was one of the first things I remember cooking, as it's so easy. Pasta Pomodoro is the easiest pasta sauce I've heard of. It has just 3 ingredients, none of them hard to find. It's an excellent base to create more complex sauces, but the sauce that results from this is so delicious and warming and homey. Why mess with it?  The pickiest eaters eat it, it's vegetarian and it will be great on seriously any shape pasta you pair it with. Serve it with ravioli for a truly lovely meal, but with regular spaghetti, garlic bread and salad, no one would complain.

Pasta Pomodoro
makes 3-4 servings for light saucers, 2 servings for heavy saucer                                                                                         
**4 tomatoes or 2 15oz cans of plainm peeled tomatoes with their juice. I like Hunt's brand, and I like whole.
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) salted butter
1 large yellow or red tomato (yellow is best)

Empty both cans of tomatoes into an appropriately sized sauce pan. Use a wooden spoon to sort of punch the whole tomatoes if you're using them. Turn on the burner to medium high heat. Add the butter, cut into 4 or so pieces and the peeled onion, cut into 4 pieces also.
Simmer these ingredients, stirring occasionally, squishing tomato and onion occasionally too. When the sauce has reduced by half, add salt and pepper to taste. Though the reduction takes a little time, you'll be rewarded with a silky rich sauce that's condensed all of the sweet tomato essence and imbued it with the friendly flavors of butter and sweet onion. It tastes rich, but is cheap. You can blend it if you like, but my favorite part is eating the chunks of tomato and the translucent soft onion layers. If serving with ravioli, I beg you to try a cheese one. This does not sound gourmet, but one of my earliest 'omgfood' moments was this same meal. Simple is good.

** If, like me, you don't have access to canned tomatoes...or are simply too tired to go get some, check out my Blanched Tomatoes how-to and use about 4-6 ripe tomatoes instead. Super easy and fast as well, and if you have homegrown tomatoes, you will never regret it. Just add a cup of water in with the ingredients at the beginning so that things have a little more juice to work with in cooking the veggies.

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