Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce

20130113-122826.jpg

Homemade spaghetti sauce is a meal I’ve had and made so much that I could practically cook it in my sleep, especially since it is one of Jon’s favorite meals. Although I don’t typically follow my mom’s recipe exactly, it is the general basis for most of my tomato sauce variations.

I started off by sautéing chopped onions until they were soft and slightly caramelized, then added in the garlic. Once the garlic was fragrant, I deglazed the pan with balsamic vinegar, then added diced tomatoes tomato paste, and some water.

20130113-123630.jpg

I didn’t have any basil (a dire situation for my kitchen!), so I decided to add oregano and thyme. I also like to add a little bit of turmeric to highlight the tomato flavor and add a little extra depth to the sauce. Once the sauce was simmering, I added the vegan Italian sausage to cook in the sauce. If you use regular sausage, I think you would want to cook it before adding it to the sauce.

20130113-123731.jpg

After the noodles were cooked, the spaghetti was ready to serve! I fancied up the table a little more than normal with candlesticks passed down from my grandmother that I received for Christmas, along with some beautiful candles my parents gave me. I love this meal because it is both elegant (assuming you don’t spatter yourself with sauce while eating) and comfort food. Yum!

20130113-124017.jpg

Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce
1 large onions, chopped
Olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
Basil (or any Italian style herb you might have)
1 can tomato paste (6 ounce)
1 large can diced tomatoes (you can also use crushed tomatoes, or tomato purée, or even chopped fresh tomatoes)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup red wine (balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar can be substituted)
1-2 Tbsp sugar (I normally leave this out as I like a more tart sauce)
12-16 ounces water
Italian sausage (vegan sausage works great too)

Put olive oil in a non-aluminum pot and heat. Add onion and basil, along with pepper, then allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring as necessary. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and water, then mix well. Add wine and 1 Tbsp sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook. If using sausage, add now to allow the flavor to permeate the sauce. Simmer sauce until it reaches desired thickness. Taste and add sugar, salt, or vinegar as needed.

20130113-124918.jpg

Advertisements

Mom’s mac’n’cheese

We visited my parents for Thanksgiving, which of course meant that my mom did most of the cooking rather than me. It also meant I got some of my favorite homemade food from growing up.

Mom made her very yummy mac’n’cheese, which isn’t vegan but is so good! It came out of the oven crunchy on top and soft and cheesy in the middle, and which was delicious served with a side salad. Yeah….mom-cooked food!

20121124-110102.jpg

Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

Yummmm….gnocchi! Sunday night after getting home from a fun weekend in the mountains, I was glad to have some gnocchi and tomatoes already in the house that I could whip up into a fast and yummy dinner.

I started off by finely dicing and caramelizing an onion (yes, all my dishes really do start with onions–maybe that’s why I can’t bake?). Once the onion was brown, I added some minced garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes. Next went in a lot of diced tomatoes and a little red wine.

While the sauce was simmering away, I started cooking all the gnocchi. After they floated to the top of the water, I spooned the gnocchi into the sauce to cook for a few minutes. It was super yummy, and made for a great lunch the next day too!

20121106-130338.jpg

Pasta with broccoli and “chicken”

Last night’s dinner was inspired by memories of a dish my mom used to make–pasta with broccoli and chicken.

I started off by sautéing sliced mushrooms in olive oil until they were browned and juicy. These went on a plate to hang out while I made the rest of the sauce. I started the sauce by sautéing onions, garlic, and broccoli stems in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little allspice. Next, I added white wine to make a broth, and put the broccoli tops and vegan “chicken” in the pan to steam.

After the broccoli was bright green, I put the mushrooms back in the pan and then added a little coconut cream to make a creamy wine sauce. Once the sauce was ready, I added my favorite pasta shape, orecchiette. It made a great dinner with fond memories of mom’s home-cooked food.

20121022-184440.jpg

Asian Peanut Pasta

Asian Peanut Pasta

Asian Peanut Pasta

When Jon said the other day that he needed comfort food for dinner, I immediately thought of this asian peanut pasta dish. It’s inspired by a dish that one of our good friends made for us one night, and now it makes regular appearances for dinner at our home. It is warm and comforting but also feels healthy because of all the veggies.

Tempeh Sauteing in Peanut Oil

Tempeh Sauteing in Peanut Oil

I like to add protein to this dish with tempeh, which I started off by sauteing in a little bit of peanut oil. The tempeh picks up the peanut flavors from the oil and almost tastes like little soft peanuts in the finished dish.

Carrots, Broccoli, and Pepper

Carrots, Broccoli, and Pepper

While the tempeh was cooking, I got all my veggies ready. You could really add almost any type of veggies you wanted, but I went with carrots, red pepper, and broccoli. I love the way broccoli picks up all the sauce in this dish!

Veggies Sauteing!

Veggies Sauteing!

Once the tempeh was done cooking, I put it on a plate to hang out while I cooked all the veggies. After adding a little more peanut oil to the pan, the carrots went in first, followed by the pepper and finally the broccoli. With the broccoli, I added a little soy sauce and then covered the veggies to steam for a bit.

The pasta had been cooking during this – I like to use whole wheat rotini noodles for this dish. Not exactly a classic asian choice, but they work really well with the peanutty sauce. The veggies were done, so I added lots of fresh ground peanut butter, a little more soy sauce, some sriracha sauce, and cooking water from the pasta to the pan. Once the peanut butter had dissolved into the liquids, it was ready for the addition of the tempeh and the noodles. Jon said it was exactly what he was in the mood for after a crazy day at work – I’m so glad I can read his mind (or at least his stomach)!

Asian Peanut Pasta Ready to Serve

Asian Peanut Pasta Ready to Serve

Orecchiette with Peas

Orecchiette with Peas

Orecchiette with Peas

Last night, I decided to make orecchiette with peas. Although Whole Foods didn’t follow my instructions to keep whole wheat orecchiette available (apparently they haven’t started reading my blog yet!), this is one of Jon’s favorite dishes and comes from the cookbook Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

LOTS of Onions

LOTS of Onions

Really, this dish should actually be called orecchiette with onions because of the extreme quantity of onions used…4 large ones! I started off by thinly slicing up the onions. My eyes were definitely watering by the third onion. After they were all sliced, they went into a big pan with olive oil for sauteing.

Onions Cooking Down

Onions Cooking Down

At this point, Jon was crying a little bit from the onion fumes and even the cats were blinking back tears! I like to let the onions cook down a lot and start to caramelize, adding a little bit of salt as they continue to cook.

 

Onions and Peas

Onions and Peas

While the orecchiette was cooking, I defrosted the peas and added them to the onions. I also decided to add a little bit of white wine to deglaze the pan along with lots of freshly ground pepper.

Finally, the pasta was done! I added the orecchiette into the onion and pea mixture, along with a good amount of the pasta cooking water to make a sauce. After combining everything together, it was ready to serve. Yum!

Orecchiette with Peas

Orecchiette with Peas

Rotini with Zucchini and Cannellini Beans

Rotini with Zucchini and Cannellini Beans

Rotini with Zucchini and Cannellini Beans

It might still be a little early for zucchini, but it looked yummy at the grocery store the other day so I decided to make one of my “pasta concoctions”…this is one of the creative moments that causes Jon to call me the McGyver of the kitchen (because I can seemingly concoct a dish out of string and a tin can)!

Zucchini with Garlic

Zucchini with Garlic

I started off by sauteing some onions and slivered garlic. To add in some savory spice, I put in a good amount of allspice and a little nutmeg.

After the onions were all soft and flavorful, I added in the sliced zucchini and the cannellini beans.

Zucchini with Cannellini Beans

Zucchini with Cannellini Beans

After tasting it, I decided it needed a little bit of a sourness so added in a small amount of rice wine vinegar, plus some red chili pepper flakes to give it a little kick. I mixed in the rotini pasta plus some of the pasta cooking water to thicken the sauce and it was ready to eat. It was like a little bowl of early summer! Yum!

Rotini with Zucchini and Cannellini Beans

Rotini with Zucchini and Cannellini Beans