Posts Tagged ‘tomato sauce’

Spaghetti Sauce

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

I’ve been crazy-busy at work lately, traveling at least a couple of days a week. That’s why the blog’s been so quiet–between the actual being on the road part, and the being exhausted when I get home part, there hasn’t been a lot of noteworthy cooking going on. There also hasn’t been a lot of grocery shopping going on. Much of what’s happened lately has been thrown together at the last minute, based on whatever’s in the cabinet.

Which led me to make my own spaghetti sauce. We had tomatoes, tomato paste, shallots, garlic—just no actual spaghetti sauce. I could’ve gone to the store, I guess. But instead, I took the “lazy” way and made the sauce from scratch. It turned out to be quite tasty!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine

Heat the oil and saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes, sauce, sugar, Italian seasoning, red pepper and wine. Simmer 30 minutes or more over very low heat, stirring occasionally. For meat sauce, add one pound of browned ground beef or cooked Italian sausage. Serve over hot spaghetti noodles.

Pastitso (Greek Lasagna)

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

So Kat got me a pretty awesome birthday present. A cooking present. (It sure does seem like all of my presents lately are cooking presents, but I’m not complaining!)

She bought me this Middle Eastern cookbook. It’s called The Complete Middle East Cookbook. And it’s pretty awesome. It’s broken into sections for all different kinds of cuisines, including Greek, which I know a little bit about, but also others that I know nothing about, like Cyprus, and Turkey, and Egypt and many more. There’s a lot to learn in this book, which I know I will enjoy. And, like all my favorite cookbooks, it’s complete with pretty pictures. I love my cookbooks filled with glossy pictures.

The first thing to catch my eye in the new cookbook was Pastitso. Defined in the book as a “Macaroni & Meat Pie,” it’s really just Lasagna with a Greek twist. When I’ve seen recipes before, it featured spinach, and other veggies, which to be honest, I’m not that crazy about. I was excited to see that this recipe didn’t require substitutions on my part. We liked all of the ingredients.

Though it required some effort, much like making a Lasagna from scratch, it was totally worthwhile. I especially liked the layer of cream sauce. I really wish that I’d thought to make two and freeze one, like I do with Lasagna. That, I think, was my one mistake.

Pastitso (Greek Lasagna)
Adapted from The Complete Middle East Cookbook

For the pasta layer:

  • 1 pound box of macaroni (I used whole wheat penne, because that’s what we had on hand)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cups grated kefalotiri or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

For the meat sauce:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

For the cream sauce:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to pan.

2. In a small saucepan, melt butter until golden brown, and pour over the reserved pasta. Add 1/2 of the cheese (1 cup) and toss well. Leave until cool, then add eggs and toss again. Set aside

3. Make the meat sauce. First, saute onions and garlic in butter until the onion is soft and translucent. Increase the heat and add the ground beef. Stirring frequently, cook until meat is browned. Add the tomato paste, wine, stock, parsley, sugar, and salt and pepper and cover. Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, to let the flavors come together.

4. Make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook gently for 1-2 minutes, until the flour browns and the raw taste is removed. Stir in the milk and bring to a bubble, stirring constantly. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool before stirring in the beaten egg.

5. Add 1/2 cup of this cream sauce to the finished meat sauce and stir to combine.

6. To assemble, butter a 9×13 baking dish. Line the bottom of the dish with a single layer of prepared pasta. Make sure that the pasta covers the bottom of the dish and is spread evenly. Top with the meat sauce, spreading it carefully and evenly to the edges of the baking dish to create a complete layer. Next, pour the cream sauce on top, and again spread carefully to create an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese on top and cook in a 350 oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Ravioli Lasagna Fake Out

Friday, March 6th, 2009

I like lasagna. And who doesn’t? What I don’t like about lasagna is all of the work involved. I just don’t have the patience for all the layers, etc., especially after working all day. But rather than relegate the whole lasagna concept to the weekends, when I have the time and energy to bother, I started making this quick lasagna casserole dish. Affectionately, we call this “Fake Lasagna,” and it’s really quite good. All the flavor and none of the fuss!

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Ravioli Lasagna Fake-Out (Fake Lasagna)

  • 16 ounce package of cheese ravioli, frozen. (We use the Kirkland brand from Costco)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 regular sized jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound ground beef (or 1/2 pound ground beef, 1/2 pound Italian sausage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot full of salted water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the frozen ravioli. Boil for 3-4 minutes, until the ravioli float to the top. Drain and reserve.

2. In a large skillet, season the ground beef with Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, and garlic. Brown and drain. Return to skillet. Stir in the jar of spaghetti sauce.

3. Spray a 2 or 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Add a spoonful of the spaghetti sauce mixture and spread across the bottom of the dish in a thin layer. (This keeps the pasta from sticking to the dish when you scoop it out later).

4. Place a single layer of ravioli on top of the sauce. Cover the ravioli with a ladle of the sauce/meat mixture. Sprinkle with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Begin a new layer of ravioli, top with sauce and cheese. Continue in this way until the casserole dish is full. I usually end up with at least 4 layers, but this will depend on how thick your ravioli are. You should end with a final layer of mozzarella cheese.

5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the mozzarella cheese. You like cheese, right?