By Steph Farrar
After a few months away from here (embarrassingly enough) I figured no better re-entry than a staple amongst tape. Tomato cream sauce with pasta, for literally everyone and everything. Welcome back to you as well.
After years working at home, while being a full-time mom, I recently landed a new job. I literally have no idea how I fit a blog post into my life, besides the fact that it's a priority.
The only two negatives of new job-ness are time away from this very site...and my family of course. Even at this very moment, while my 8-month old is crying himself to sleep, I'm still grateful for time to myself. Time to focus on progress, being a better mother, having something else to discuss at cocktail parties other than vomit, diaper changes, and milestones. So let's get to the sauce.
It's seasonally the end of summer, with the swift passing of Labor Day and a goodbye to white jeans (never in Cali), yet tomatoes are still delicious. While I used my favorite San Marzanos and a large handful of fresh cherubs, I wish I had a filling of those gorgeous heirlooms. Getting to the market lately is a privilege. However, this sauce never fails, in or out of season.
I'm not a big fan of sweet tomato sauce, see the Batali added carrot or Nigella added vidalia. I prefer salty, vodka-ish, closer to Ina's favorite sauce than any other. If I have to use a store-bought, I never buy anything other than Roa's Vodka Sauce, so my goal... replicate, minus vodka.
For this late summer dinner, Vesper and I had orecchiette pasta, one of my favorites... where the pasta scoops up the sauce in its little hat-ear, eats the parmesan alive and leaves it all for your buds. I wish I could say when I'm cooking I'm solely focused on the task at hand. In these brief moments of quiet calm, I steal away whatever time I have to catch up on my beloved game.
I shouldn't mention my extreme jealousy of anyone who attended the U.S. Open this year, especially because I'm married to one such person. My weeknight was so different from his.
And now for...without-shame-appliance-plug: The Baby Bullet.
It's not just for baby food, it's just cuter than the Magic Bullet. Same thing, with a smiley face. If only Flynn could have some of this sauce. He's so close to the joys of full-flavored food, yet seemingly so far. Maybe he'll be the first kid in our family to crave sushi, avocado and zucchini? Working on it with the bullet.
But maybe ground-up sushi is a no-no?
You'd think I'd have this down by now.
Tomato Cream Sauce with Orecchiette
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced (not sweet, any but vidalia)
1 24 oz can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
large handful fresh cut cherry tomatoes, any variety
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp freshly chopped thyme
1 tsp freshly chopped basil
2 pats butter (2 tbsp)
either 1/4 cup cream or fresh / prepared ricotta
1 package orecchiette pasta
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil at medium high heat in a Dutch / French oven or heavy bottom pan.
Add onions and garlic and cook before browning, 4-5 minutes.
Hand crush San Marzanos over heated pan. Add additional sauce and fresh tomatoes. Add red pepper flake if using.
Simmer over medium low heat for about 30 minutes.
While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a large pinch of salt, just as it begins to boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes. Drain, set aside.
Add thyme and basil to sauce about halfway through simmering process. Once tomatoes are cooked down, add butter, and either cream or ricotta, cook an additional 5-10 minutes.
Add a healthy pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
In a blender, Magic Baby Bullet or any other blending appliance, add sauce in batches until slightly blended... keep some chunks!
Reheat sauce in a shallow saute pan until barley simmering. Add drained pasta to incorporate sauce, making sure every little "hat" is full of that flavor.
Top with freshly grated parmesan and a pinch more of salt. Garnish with freshly torn basil leaves.