Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Slightly Unusual Pasta Sauce

Being on a rather meager budget these days, I usually do not give too much thought into making elaborate meals with 50 different ingredients.  More often than not, I buy the same items over and over again trying to figure out new ways to combine them.  Spinach, arugula, cherry tomatoes, shallots, and some sort of cheese are regulars in my shopping basket.  

So when it came time to plot my evening meal, I looked over everything I had bought and decided to make a tomato sauce to serve over pasta.  But not just a quickie 10 minute one like the ones I made countless times over the summer.  I wanted to give it a good hour or two... see how the flavors would meld and the aromas could fill my home.  Also, I wanted to pay more attention to seasoning, perhaps even incorporating some different or surprising elements.

I started off by roughly chopping a white onion and throwing it in my food processor (my favorite kitchen appliance).  Once the onion was evenly pared down to teensy bits, it went on the stove with a thick layer of olive oil on medium heat.  The onion softened for about 10 minutes before I tossed in 4 cloves of finely diced garlic (courtesy of the food processor).  I had picked up a 1lb heirloom tomato mix basket; so after a quick trip in the food processor, those followed the garlic.

Then came the seasoning.  First, the obligatory salt and pepper.  Then, no stranger to pasta sauce, oregano.  A big fan adding red chile pepper flakes to pretty much anything, I threw in a dash of that with an accompanying dash of cayenne pepper.  As I rifled through my cabinet, I recalled my first trip to Greece.  I had ordered some pasta dish and, after taking the first bite, detected something unusual in it.  It took me a minute to figure out that it was cinnamon.  Definitely different for me, but I quickly acquired a taste for it.  And so, in went a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon!  Not quite satisfied, I decided to add some smoked paprika, a recent obsession for me.

I turned the heat down to low and let everything simmer together for about an hour.  In the last 10 minutes, I threw in some chopped arugula and baby spinach to up the green factor.  And of course it would not be complete without a bit of cheese!  So I grated a small hunk of asiago cheese over the sauce before turning off the heat.  After ladling the sauce over my pasta, I pulled my secret side dish out of the oven: garlic cheddar bread (House of Bread) which had been wrapped in foil and baked at 400 for about 20 minutes with butter, parmesan, and smoked paprika.

Sooooooo good... definitely  making more next time!  The cayenne and chile pepper added a subtle kick while the paprika added an amazing smokiness and the cinnamon finished it off with a light sweetness.  I would highly recommend trying out these spices in your next sauce.


  1. Lost the last two entries - I was missing you for a while. Happy New Year!

  2. Well it is always good to know someone is keeping up with this little blog! Happy New Year to you as well :)