Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recipe of the Week: How to Make Healthy and Cheap Pasta Sauce (a Guest Post!)

This is a blog post by my wonderful and talented (Italian) boyfriend, Brandon! He makes AWESOME pasta sauce, and I've asked him to share his secrets. Enjoy :)

"Heh, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn't stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs; heh…? And a little bit o' wine. An' a little bit o' sugar, and that's my trick." 
- Some Character from "The Godfather I"

Approach your pasta sauce as a simple seasoning to your dish. Do not put it on a pedestal and be the person who spends $20 on spaghetti sauce. When you think of seasoning, you usually consider it a topping of sorts, and toss it on top of a protein, starch or carb (pasta). When you make a sauce that has excessive ingredients, expensive wines and a bunch of  basil, you're basically forcing yourself to eat the same sauce over and over and over regardless of the dish it's served upon. The goal is to make the sauce in bulk, use only a few ingredients and keep the cost down. You'll have plenty of time to add extra flavors when you decide to warm up your pasta sauce on the stove (because reheating it in the microwave is horrible). 


1. Slowly begin heating your biggest pot on the stove so you're not working with a cold pot; usually 1/4 heat. Things tend to do better when the pot has been slightly heated. 

2. Add olive oil, turn your heat up a little. Careful now! Don't burn it!

3. Once you begin to smell your olive oil (about a minute on the heat), throw in your garlic (or green onions for low fodmap) and let it infuse into the olive oil for a minute or so. 

4. Add your tomato paste and water mixture and stir until emulsified together. 

5. Add tomatoes, sugar and salt. 

6. Turn heat up to boiling temp (warning, tomato sauce will boil quickly and you should be observant of this so you don't burn it or boil it over). Stir. (Note: at no point should your stove temp be on high heat)

7. Once boiling, stir some more. Keep it moving and keep it hot!

8. Remove from boiling heat, bring heat to low/simmer and let it sit for a while. About 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on the moisture level. It should look like sauce, not soup or paste. 

9. This step is where you would add your meal specific extras; cooked and strained meats, sautéed veggies, wine, etc. If you're cooking on a budget, I don't recommend adding all of this to every batch, just perform step 9 during the reheat the next time you're making a pasta dish.

Anticipated Questions..

Shouldn't I add basil!?
Basil is a leaf and will wilt if you cook it with everything (when wilted, it ends up looking like a piece of black trash bag and no one wants to see that in their pasta). Chop this fresh and sprinkle over your finished dish. It will be much more visually appealing and incredibly aromatic. People will see your colorful basil accents and will think Pinterest is just a reality show about your kitchen. 

If I'm adding wine, what kind of wine should I use?
A sweet, red wine. CabSav is my preference. Something like a Merlot will pair well with a red-meat dish. 

Vidalia onions?
Sure, if you want. Saute just as you did the garlic and pour your base sauce over it to reheat. 

What's arrabiata sauce? 
Spicy sauce. Add a little red pepper during your reheat process. Usually goes well with a pork dish. 

Can I make more?
Oh yea...You can make gallons this way. Multiply the recipe with the san marzano tomatoes as the multiplier. I recommend portioning and freezing your left overs unless you know how to can properly.  

Happy cooking! Have any pasta sauce recipes or secrets you'd like to share?


  1. I've never made my own sauce. Seems easy enough :) Willing to give it a shot!

  2. It's easier than you'd think - a lot of simmering and waiting, but so worth it. And you can make so much, way cheaper than buying jars :)

  3. I did not know it was this easy to make sauce. I am going to try it.

  4. Awesome! Can't wait to hear how it goes :)

  5. Yay! You'll have to let me know how it goes.

  6. Sounds delicious and so easy to make! Thank you for sharing!


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