Saturday, February 21, 2009
Leftover Thyme? Make Batches of Basic Tomato Sauce
I was cleaning out the 'fridge this morning and came across a package of fresh thyme purchased by my partner about a week ago. He used maybe one or two sprigs. The fact that we have essentially an entire $3 or $4 package of unused thyme is bothering me. I hate wasting food and, nowadays, with our tanking economy, I'm particularly conscious about making sure any food we purchase actually gets consumed.
So, what to do with the leftover sprigs of thyme? I like making batches of Mario Batali's basic tomato sauce from his book, "Molto Italiano 327 Italian Recipes to Cook at Home." This sauce, which is naturally sweetened by the carrots, is my favorite tomato sauce to make. It's also versatile. I've used it for eggplant parmesan and lasagna, among other dishes. I typically make two separate batches and freeze the sauce in GLAD containers containing 2 1/2 cups each (enough for 2 people).
Basic Tomato Sauce
Makes approximately 4-5 cups
1/4 cup extra virgin oil
1 Spanish onion cut into 1/4 inch dice
4 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 finely shredded medium carrot
Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand (see note below), and juices reserved
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook until the carrot is quite soft, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, with their juice, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until sauce is as thick as hot cereal, about 30 minutes. Season with salt.
Note: I chopped the thyme leaves in a coffee grinder, and did the remaining chopping and shredding in a food processor. As for the crushed tomatoes, I just poured the whole tomatoes and their juices into the saucepan and then gently crushed each one using both hands, being careful not to touch the sides or the bottom of the hot saucepan.