We’ve been eating a lot of meat lately. Mm. Meat. Nothing wrong with meat, but some days the old ticker says, “Hey Walsh, take it easy please.” I listen to my body all the time. And I respond in kind. So when it says, “Hey Walsh, you need to eat that Mint Oreo Blizzard”, I say “okay”. Similarly, when it wants me to cut back on meat, I will heed that call as well.
I wanted to make something fairly simple for our Sunday supper. It has been a busy, hot, day. Hot? Yes. Hot. Although minus a bazillion outside, our place has been sitting at 26C all day. We live in an apartment you see. An apartment with an old, hot water heating system. It hisses. It gurgles. It has a happy ping-ting-ping-ting-ting at night. But in our suite, it seems the devil himself has made himself at home and set the heat on high. As I said to a friend last night, I was thinking of putting dough on the walls and see if I’d wake up to naan bread.
Our building management company has posted signs in the communal hallways and elevator warning us ever so specifically, that if we leave our windows open and the thermostat set below 20C that we will cause the pipes to burst and disaster to the building. And it will be Our Fault. So ever so cautiously, ever hour or so, we quietly crank open our windows, and like people who have crossed the desert with no water for days on end and suddenly it rains, we stand in the cold air rushing in our open windows, gulping in the cool air, lifting our shirts to feel the icy air on our heat blistered skin and giggling with insanity.
We’ve been in our shabbiest of summer clothing to beat the heat. We escaped momentarily today to buy the fixings for Piña Coladas, because, if you can’t beat the heat, you may has well make the best of it, and pretend, even for a few minutes, that you live in a palapa by the sea… a palapa beside a sea that offers no air movement, no soothing swooshing ocean waves, no moisture in the air, and ratty old carpeting the colour of sand, that is in desperate need of a vacuuming.
What was I supposed to be writing about? Oh yes, marinara sauce.
So from Mexico (the palapas), and Puerto Rico (Piña Coladas), let’s move to Italy for a bit.
I wanted to make a plain veggie tomato sauce to go with pasta. Marinara came to mind, because it’s a meatless sauce. But what goes in it? My only experience with marinara sauce is a Catelli can my Mom always had on hand in the lazy susan at home when growing up. I remember it being watery and not too flavourful. As a teenage picky eater, it was perfect at the time. But today, I wanted a sauce that would stick to the pasta. A sauce with a ton of flavour.
A recipe provided by a ubiquitous Italian food TV chef Giada De Laurentiis offers a marinara sauce full of carrots and celery, onions and tomatoes. But I lost interest with the ½ cup of olive oil. Can that be for real? Deep fried marinara?
So I moved on to other websites, which all seemed to agree you just heat up a can of tomatoes, along with sautéed onion, garlic and a few flakes of peppers and basil. Yawn.
If I could crunch up the internet in a ball and throw it over my shoulder, I would have. I said to myself, “You write a food blog for heaven’s sake, make something up!”. So I did.
In a few tablespoons of olive oil, sauté finely chopped onion, with similarly chopped green pepper, celery and carrots. When soft, add some chopped garlic. Stir. When you start to smell the garlic, add:
Whatever tickles your fancy really
When your over-heated apartment smells like an Italian bistro, add your tomatoes. I added a tin of tomato paste for the stick-to-your-pasta thickness, a little bit of balsamic vinegar, because I read on some obscure website that this is what you add to marinara, and then a tin of your best tinned tomatoes.
Now, this might be shocking to some of you, but I whirred the whole kit and caboodle in the blender. I was looking for a sauce, not a chunky stew. So I whirred, and this is what I got:
Michael asked innocently if it contained cream for the pale red colour. But what it lacks in tomato red, it makes up for in flavour. It’s brilliant, if I may say so myself.
We are trying a new pasta tonight. Barilla, which we bought today instead of our usual favourite Riscossa, both found at the Italian Centre Shop.
I’m sure it will be just as delicious, because I don’t think the Italian Centre Shop sells anything bad. I reluctantly add (for greedy reasons) that the café at the Italian Centre Shop (south side) is brilliant. For only $5.50 you get a perfect espresso, cappuccino, and a croissant to share. The challenge? Finding a seat. The place is busy.
Just remember, when you wake up to the news on your radios Monday morning, and you hear of a couple found incased in ice in their apartment because they let the pipes freeze, it may very well be us.