Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fast Food 4: Marinara Sauce

As time goes on I feel a little more human and want to get back in the kitchen. Only strong enough for pasta the other day, but instead of the jarred sauce my son had been using I wanted something a bit healthier. 

At the beginning of the Fast Food 4: Beyond the Basics video, before the Fast Food Twins come in from their day at the beach, Jeff makes up some basic recipes - vegetable broth, salsa, tahini sauce, and a basic marinara sauce. It's really pretty simple, and again, he says this is a "double batch" of the sauce. From the PDF file:

2 boxes Pomi tomatoes
1 cup diced frozen onions or onion/pepper frozen mix
3 teaspoons Mrs. Dash (or other brand) Italian seasonings
3 teaspoons Mrs. Dash Table Blend
2 teaspoons dried basil 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/8 teaspoon oregano (option)

I had some boxes of strained Pomi near their expiration date so used one box of chopped (what Jeff used) and one strained,

I don't remember now if onions were included in the video but think Jeff said they can be an optional addition. I always add onions when making sauce from scratch, either frozen or fresh, and used a bit more than half a bag of frozen onions because that's what I had left in the freezer. In the past, I've even nuked them in the microwave or browned them up in a pan first and then added them to jarred sauce.

In the video Jeff said he doesn't use Italian seasonings blends because he prefers to use the individual spices and herbs for this particular recipe. I have a supply of Penzy Italian herbs and used that. As for the Table Blend, I didn't measure and it may have only been 1 teaspoon. I should have used more.

He used a lot more than 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder in the video and admitted he never measures. I, too, used a lot more garlic, mainly because we love it but also because it's good for what ails you, and I needed some strong healing! I also dropped in 2 cubes of frozen Dorot crushed garlic.

I don't like red pepper flakes so skipped them, and since oregano is in the Italian mix, I didn't add that, either.

Jeff also used a lot of dried basil. He said he prefers fresh
sweet basil but the store he went to didn't have any that looked good, so he was using dried sweet basil. I added a little of this, even though it, too, was included in the Italian mix.

I made one more addition to the sauce and dropped in 2 cups of defrosted and squeezed frozen spinach. I try to get greens into this family every chance I can, and this is one of those easy occasions to do so.

I served this sauce - the whole batch - over a pound of cooked rice pasta. That pasta really soaks up the sauce and even a one-quart jar usually leaves quite a bit of un-sauced pasta, so I figured this would be a great amount, and it was.

Now I've made pasta sauce very similar, maybe even identical, to this for years now, and always have the same reaction - it's too bland and tasteless. Because of my cold and the fact that my son had been using full sodium sauce when he made pasta for us during the week, this tasted even blander yet. My husband said it was fine with him, tasted just as good as any other pasta sauce I've made in the past. Our son, who made his own pot of pasta and used his own sauce on it, sampled a small bit and said he's glad he has his own stuff to eat.

Will I make it again? Probably. When I use jarred pasta sauce I use the Walnut Acres Tomato Basil lower sodium jarred sauce @ $4.99 to $5.49 a jar. It's only 25.5 ounces, so I have to add to it to make enough fluid for the pasta. Add a can of tomatoes @ $1 a can; sometimes a can of paste @ 33 cents a can; hearty amounts of dried herbs and spices; vegetables, cost depending on how many and what types I add. Sometimes I just use an entire second jar of sauce. Now add a loaf of bread. Maybe some homemade crumbles, meatballs, or sausages or packaged Soy Curls. A "simple and cheap" pasta meal can sometimes cost over $20! For us, that's a lot. 

I really wish sodium didn't affect my blood pressure and I could grab a jar of cheaper, all veg no-oil added pasta sauce!

Sorry there's no photo. I forgot to take it when I made the meal, and I was going to grab a shot when I reheated the container of leftovers but my husband grabbed it and ate it before I knew what happened. He did say it tasted better the second time around, though. 

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