The Secret to Amazing Tomato-Based Sauce: Roasting It In the Oven

It starts the usual way sauces do—sauté onion and garlic, add some chile flakes, then booze, then tomatoes, but then it swerves off course. Here’s the secret to its success: You take this perfectly adequate sauce and roast it in the oven for an hour and a half.

Source: A Genius Technique for the Best Vodka Pasta (And Better Marinara, Too)

I sometimes start my sauce by caramelizing my tomato paste in olive oil over the heat, then deglazing that with about 1/4 bottle of red wine. The sweet caramelized tomato paste/wine combo makes things really punchy in the end, even through a long simmer.

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Soak Pasta Instead of Boiling It for Easier Baked Pasta Dishes

Here’s something I’ve always wondered: when baking pasta, as in, say, lasagna or baked ziti, why do you always cook the pasta first? Aren’t you inviting trouble by cooking it once, then proceeding to put it in a casserole and cooking it again? Well, there’s the obvious first part of the answer to this question: pasta needs to absorb water as it cooks—a lot of water, around 80 percent of its own weight when perfectly al dente. So, add raw pasta directly to a baked pasta dish, and it will soften all right—it’ll also suck up all of the moisture from the sauce, leaving it dry or broken.

Source: The Food Lab: For Easier Baked Ziti, Soak, Don’t Boil Your Pasta

I thought the pasta drew moisture from the sauce.  It does… resulting in dry sauce. I’ve always wondered about those pastas marketed as not needing to be boiled first—how are they different from regular pasta or is this just some marketing ploy? Anyway, traditionally recipes recommend boiling the pasta first.

Make Any Tapenade With This Simple Formula

Enter tapenade. If you’re familiar only with the kind that comes in the small jar from the supermarket, you’re missing out. The time saved may seem to compensate for the less-than-ideal flavor, but you can make make a much better version at home in under 30 minutes. Here’s how:

Source: How to Make Tapenade Without a Recipe

There’s 1.4 mcg of vitamin K in 100 grams of olives, and the recipe calls for 2 cups (~360 grams).  That’s ~5 mcg of vitamin K…  Capers on the other hand contain 24.6 mcg of vitamin k per 100 grams.

Keeping in mind that the vitamin K dose is quoted on consuming all of the tapenade.  I’m not judging… 😉

On a more serious note, I would not recommend eating tapenade before an INR test.  If there’s a long enough interval between tests (1 month), then I’d suggest tapenade soon after getting tested so you have time for your INR level to recover in an effort to not have to adjust your medication dose.

Upgrade Homemade Salsa by Marinating It for an Hour Before Serving

Your chips, tacos, and grilled meats deserve the best. And by “best,” what we really mean is a salsa that’s chunky, saucy, scoopable, and packed with fiery, smoky, fresh flavor. You’re not going to find all that in a jarred supermarket salsa. For that kind of flavor, you’ve got to make your own at home. But first, read up on the most common mistakes people make for DIY salsa. Now pass us those tortillas.

Source: Just Say No to Jarred, Watery Salsa: 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid

You can also add a can of diced tomatoes along with the fresh ingredients to give a more blended look and flavor. Canned tomatoes have a flavor and texture that cannot be reproduced by just chopping up fresh tomatoes.

Marinating is a great way to get more flavor from sauces, soups, stews and chile. When making fresh salsa, then serving the next day, I will chop up some fresh tomatoes and onions and mix them in just before serving it, to give it a “fresh look.”