Tag Archives: marinara

Getting Over The Hump, Italian-Vegan Style

In my pantry today:

  • 1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 5 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1.5 c macaroni, dry
  • 1/2 c Nutrela
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin 
  • 2 dashes of salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 3 drops doTerra oregano essential oil
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

meatlessmarinara

I started my morning by tossing some stuff in a crock pot and walking away. First, it was slice-chunks of onion and garlic in 1/3 c olive oil resting covered on the highest setting for about 20m. Stir in Balsamic vinegar, cumin and turmeric. Add a quick dash of salt. Cover and let continue to cook for another 20m. Now this all seems very time-dependent and I know most of us are not common to such luxury; in my defense all of the time between food handlings was wisely spent cleaning up after myself and getting ready for a day outside of the home. Food needed to be ready this evening so as to keep us away from unintentional glucose emergencies that end up requiring an errant drive through. In the cupboards were cans of tomatoes and macaroni. I am nowhere near a regimented dietary state, but I can foresee history’s repeats and perhaps solve a steep caloric intake of not-really-food items with a nice marinara. The power of a nice marinara should not be underestimated.

nutrelacrumbled

Before leaving the house, turn the crock pot to its lowest setting. Return home several hours later and rejoice at the odor which awaits you. Decide that the Nutrela deserves another chance because you have no other desirable proteins and a little extra time. Boil it for 17 instead of the 7 instructed on the box. Shrug at the point of defeat against texture; drain and fastidiously squeeze out the additional water inside each nugget (that’s not as bad as it sounds — just lay them all out and press a clean cloth into them with a firm hand). Dice them until they become almost a ground sausage consistency. In a small saucepan add the now-ground(ish) Nutrela with 1/2 tsp garlic paste and 1 drop oregano essential oil. Take a second to tenderly smash while stirring to ensure the not-meat’s submissive essence then set aside for a nutrela2few minutes while the macaroni finishes boiling. Add two drops of oregano oil to the marinara; stir. When those little elbows are drained, mix some marinara into the saucepan and serve over macaroni that was pelted before and after said sauce with Parmesan (or substitute a vegan option, since this recipe is vegan until this part). So the Nutrela downgrades a 5 spoon marinara dinner to a 4 spoon dining experience. Nutrela you are not a terrible foe, but my battles with you have only just begun.

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Le Polpette Più Straordinaria (Or, “Meatballs!”)

In my pantry today:

  • 4 c crock pot marinara from freezer
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 2 Italian sausages
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 c plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
Meatballs ft. Steam of Deliciousness

Meatballs ft. Steam of Deliciousness

It’s a new year and the freezer is full of meat. Well, not full but still housing a little more than I’d like to have on hand and I would really like to free up space in both my freezer and capillaries so tonight’s dinner was meatballs. Using the freezer marinara also helped — plus, who wants to make homemade meatballs and use anyone else’s sauce in which to bathe them? I mean, that would just be wrong… right? So start this journey by ensuring everything is thawed and at the ready: your sausages have been removed from their casings, your garlic is minced and your oven is preheated to 350°.

meatballs1Heat the marinara over ML heat until it is hot but don’t let it get to boil; it can just sit patiently. All of the other ingredients can go into a mixing bowl and have your hands either lovingly or angrily (how was your day?) mash everything into a thick paste. Roll into balls 1-1.5″ in diameter and space them on a baking pan with raised sides to catch any runoff. What I had in the freezer was 93% fat free ground chuck so there was little in the way of grease, so I can sate my guilty conscience there. Cook in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then pick each hot little ball off the pan and plop it into your sauce. Cook on L until dinnertime. I love little nuggets of garlic in my meatballs, knowing they are shrouded in Parmesan and coated with meat then again smothered with homemade marinara… 5 spoons.

 

 

Lasagna, ft. Sausage, Kale and Cheese Trifecta

In my pantry today:

  • The butt-ends of two boxes of lasagna noodles
  • 1 freezer bag crock pot marinara (approx 3 c)
  • 1 freezer bag cooked ground Italian sausage (approx 3/4 c)
  • 3 medium leaves kale
  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 c asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 c mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1 dash salt

lasagnaThaw then marry your marinara and sausage in a medium-sized pot on the stove. Also start a large, oiled pot of water with an accompanying dash of salt. When your water begins to show signs of a boil, hold each leaf of kale by its stem and dip into the water for a count of 12. Wrap them in a clean towel and gently squeeze out all the water. Move them to the cutting board, remove stems and mince; set aside. Your pasta can go in now and cook until it’s a little too al dente to be al dente, then drain it and rinse with cold water until everything is chilled to room temperature.

Shred asiago cheese, set aside with mozzarella. Mix egg with ricotta cheese and dash salt. Rub a little olive oil inside a 6×6″ baking pan and begin layering by laying the most whole of your noodles along the bottom of the pan. Pour on 1/4 your sauce, scatter in half your kale bits, sprinkle 1/3 the asiago on, drop in dollops of ricotta and spread gently across the breadth of the pan, then add as complete a layer as you can with the noodle amputations and do this all again. Add a final layer of noodles, then add the rest of your sauce and top with the rest of your asiago and all of your mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake foil-covered pan in 350° oven for 45m, then take foil off and cook another 10-20m until optimum browning has occurred. Though next time I’d use more kale and sausage, this was still pretty good and worth all 4 spoons!

 

Miracles in Quick Marinaras (or, “OregaNO YOU DIDN’T)

In my pantry today:

  • 1 package refrigerated cheese ravioli
  • 8 oz ground sausage
  • 16ish oz canned tomato puree
  • 1 10 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp hot red chili/cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 drop doTerra® oregano essential oil

So a roll of ground sausage was going to thaw and go to waste were it not cooked. Don’t you judge me.

That being said, I actually drained off a little more of the grease than I meant to and left my diced up onion and garlic a bit dry in the pan. I kinda stir-fried in the turmeric, Italian seasoning, red chili powder and asafoetida, letting things simmer  in what little fat they could until the pan started developing liver spots. At that point, tomato reinforcements were called in to cool things down.

This was an acceptable sauce to go over what were most likely adequate store-bought ravioli. It was a meal, and I was tired. My wife* (the yoga instructor) brought into the kitchen her new set of essential oils; more importantly here, oregano oil. And boy, it was

I’m part of the mint family.

pungent past principle in proving its paternity.  Now I’m Italian enough, but never had I ever known of oregano as something with medicinal properties. She suggested and I was happy to agree to try a drop in the pan to see if it was terribly strong for its dual cooking application and how it might taste.

Stir it in. Wait for it. One drop, really. Just one. Wait! Feel that? It was a Tuscan breeze passing through your kitchen window. I still can’t really reconcile how one drop of anything can take a saucepan full of emo-mato sauce from 3 spoons to a celebratory 5 spoons. The force is so very with it, and I hope to one day try the force of other kinds (cilantro, clove, lemon, lime, peppermint, rosemary, wild orange). Holiday baking season will soon be upon us, and regular extracts can go sit and spin!

 

*omg I have one of those and one of those has me.

Mindbending ‘Mater Meat

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c blanched/diced tomatoes
  • 3 c cooked ziti
  • 1 tbsp vegetable ghee
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 m Vidalia onion
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

So the store had a sale on tomatoes. And I bought eighteen of them. Don’t you judge me. As I’ve recently been on a blanching binge, this seemed no hard choice — it ended up being, however, a long and messy process to blanch, peel and dice that many tomatoes at once without much counter space. I ended up putting six cups of freshly blanched and diced tomatoes in the freezer, which made me feel very handy and thrifty. The other 3.5 c of diced ‘mater meat from this debacle was set aside.

Slice your onion and garlic as thinly as possible while the ghee melts on ML. Add oil and put in onion and garlic slices when ghee melts. Let everything simmer on ML for a minute, then increase heat to M and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7m. Stir vinegar into pot contents and reduce heat to ML; leave the pot’s side for 10m. When you return, stir in turmeric and red hot chili powder then add tomatoes and salt. Turn heat up to M and stir until it comes to a boil. Then walk away and return in a series of quick cycles every few minutes for the next hour. If after an hour the sauce is not yet at a consistency you like, reduce heat to ML and continue to slow boil until you get there. Be forewarned that this is a 2 person serving, so feel free to do the math on those ingredients to feed a larger crew. Serve mixed with the pasta of your choice and topped with Parmesan cheese. While delicious, this dish shows that my mind was more on ‘mater meat than on other seasonings I could’ve added — I recommend adding basil and/or oregano and/or anything else you might find in an Italian Seasoning blend from the store to try and grab that 5 spoon potential. 4 spoons!