for christmas, i asked for an immersion blender. i asked, doug bought. and he didn't just get the crappy one i added to my christmas list, he got me a great cuisinart one. after using it only once, i started to wonder why did i not have one of these years ago?
even though almost nothing is easier than cooking up a warm, one-pot meal like soup, there was one step i'd complain about every time; pouring the boiling hot vegetables and stock out of the pot and into the blender. i had burned myself enough times and hated it so much, that i had even tried skipping that step, which meant watery soups (ewww). this awesome tool takes care of all that in record time, and without any of the mess.
(serves: a whole bunch of people)
dried or fresh basil
canned tomatoes, (whatever style you have
if you're lucky enough to own an immersion blender;)
2. add mushrooms (i used one of those small containers) and cook until they also turn a bit brown. once they do, add basil and oregano (however much you prefer, but i don't hold back) and cook just until you start to really smell those herbs opening up - i'd say about a minute or so. if you have it on hand, add some tomato paste which i think helps thicken the sauce.
3. now add the wine - i used up the cup we had left of a good bottle of pinot, but any red that is good enough for drinking works. simmer until all the alcohol has cooked off and when there is very little liquid left.
4. now add your tomatoes with the juice. i had five 14.5 oz cans on hand, so i used them all. once everything is in the pot, bring the liquid to a boil, then reduced the heat to a simmer. cover the pot and simmer the crap out of it! i'm talking working out, showering, hanging out, blogging, picking kids up from school kind of simmering. however, i'm not responsible for your house burning down. just saying. and less time on the stove top is fine too, you're just missing out on being able to say that you simmered the crap out of it and conquered the world all at the same time.
5. the great thing about the diced tomatoes is that you can cook them a lot easier on the stove as opposed to a thick sauce that will "burp" (gross, but seriously). i don't blend the sauce until i'm ready to serve everything up so that i don't get tomato sauce all over the kitchen.
6. when you're just about ready to get things on the table, go ahead and blend the tomatoes and see how it tastes. i usually add a bit of salt throughout the cooking process, but it's fine to wait until you're ready to taste the sauce and adjust how much salt you're going to need. for a big pot of pasta sauce like this, i end up using a good amount of salt, figuring it's still probably less sodium than the jarred stuff. whatever makes you sleep at night, right? also, this may sound kind of shocking, but to tone down the "tomatoey" taste, i'll add a tiny bit of a sweetener. honey is a great, natural sweetener that you're not going to need much of, but shhh, i've even used white sugar. just add little bits until it tastes right.
as you can imagine, this recipe is easily altered. go ahead and add anchovies, ground beef, sausage, meatballs, spicy red pepper flakes, ricotta cheese, or whatever you think is appropriate. let me know if you come up with an irresistible twist!