I’ve been called a hippie several times in the last couple months. I don’t really fashion myself to be a true hippie, and I don’t think the label was meant as an insult. I think the comments have mostly been in response to my sharing my goals of eating less processed food and more organic and locally produced meat, switching to raw milk and other dairy products and eliminating plastic and BPA from my world. Not really hippie status. Maybe granola…but not hippie.
This weekend I decided to flake out on my school-work and my work-work and spend some time in the kitchen. I hit the farm on Saturday to pick up some eggs, organic Corriente ground beef (for chili later this week) and some organic Italian sausage. I decided to make a pasta dish with the sausage, and since I had the time, I tackled something I’ve never tried…homemade marinara.
I started with about four pounds of fresh, on-the-vine tomatoes. Unfortunately, the organic variety were in really sorry shape, so I had to go with the non-organic. I know tomatoes are not in season now, but the store near my house does not sell glass-jarred tomatoes, and I am really doing everything I can to avoid canned goods. I figured if I weighed which was worse, using canned tomatoes represents a bigger health risk than non-organic. Plus, I really wanted to do this from scratch and not rely on any packaged items for my sauce.
I peeled and seeded the tomatoes by hand, capturing all the juice and liquid through a strainer as I seeded them. Then, I diced a large, yellow onion and sauteed it for a few minutes in a chipotle olive oil I buy locally. I know it seems like an odd combination for a red sauce, but I really like the slight “kick” this oil gives the onions. Before the onions had a chance to brown, I added a few cloves of fresh, chopped garlic and a blend of secret herbs and spices. I realize a true marinara doesn’t have any herbs or spices in it, but this was my own creation, so I took some license.
I sauteed the garlic with the onions for a few minutes, being careful not to let it get too hot and turn bitter, then I poured a healthy splash of a nice cabernet I had handy to deglaze the pan. I simmered the onions and garlic in the wine for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes and the reserved juice. Then, I let the sauce simmer for about two hours, stirring occasionally to help the tomatoes break down. The house smelled amazing, and in the end the sauce was really delicious. I used the hand blender to smooth the sauce out a bit since there’s a picky eater in the house, but it would have also been good as a chunky marinara. I sliced and browned the Italian sausage, then tossed with linguini and the sauce. Excellent meal, and (other than the pasta…well, and the sausage since I didn’t kill the pig) a completely homemade one!
A couple of things to note. I also tried to make this Guinness chocolate cake with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting. But, I modified and made cupcakes. Bad idea. This is a super dense and very sticky cake that does not translate well to cupcakes. Meaning…it hates the little paper cups and refuses to come out. So, that idea was scrapped and the rest of the bottle of wine served as dessert. And…I don’t shave my legs.