10 Feb simple marinara sauce
When I was thinking of a recipe to share with you this week, I was motivated by the fact that Valentine’s Day is this coming Tuesday. In an effort to give you some ideas of what you might cook for your loved one, my thoughts turned first to a classic steak supper.
But then again, I thought to myself, for a person who isn’t well-versed in the realm of the kitchen, steak can be a little tricky. It’s one of those seemingly simple dishes, such as a boiled egg, that takes a modicum of skill to do it really, really well. There is a bit of multi-tasking and careful timing involved in serving up a truly wonderful steak dinner which can set about a little chain reaction of fluster and frazzlement in the out-of-practice cook. These are not the vibes you want to cultivate for a romantic dinner. So, if you’re planning on cooking for the cook in your life this Valentine’s Day and you don’t usually cook, it might be wiser to focus on something foolproof and fuss-free.
I recently came across the expression in Korean cooking known as “son-mat” which literally translates as “the taste of one’s hands.” Its figurative meaning is that the secret ingredient in great tasting food is the love and care the cook put into it. It’s this TLC that can really make a Valentine’s meal special.
On a weekly basis, throughout the year, my husband makes me a simple pasta supper with a homemade tomato-based sauce. As simple as it is and even given the regularity with which he dishes it up, every time I sit down for a bowl of it is special. Every time, I can taste the time, the care and the stress-free effort he has put into the sauce. And that makes me feel really loved.
So this week I’m sharing one our regular tomato sauces, a simple Marinara. The secret to a great Marinara is a generosity in spirit when it comes to garlic, and a good splash of white wine cooked off in the sauce. In the summer months, making this sauce with fresh tomatoes would make it even more delicious but just get the best quality of everything you can for this, from the spaghetti to the tinned tomatoes. It’s simple, speedy, stress-free yet still delicious. Let’s leave the steak suppers for next week.
A Simple Marinara
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
1 small onion
5 cloves of garlic
A splash of white wine
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
Salt and pepper
150g of spaghetti
A handful of fresh parsley and basil, finely chopped
Handful of finely grated Parmesan
1. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat. Peel and finely dice the onion and the garlic cloves. Add to the pan and cook gently for about ten minutes or until the onions are translucent, being careful not to burn either the onions or the garlic. You could also add some bacon lardons or a few cubes of good quality chorizo here for a boost of smokey flavour if you like.
2. Add splash of white wine (about 75ml is what you’re looking for) to the onions and bring to a simmer, increasing the heat a little if you have to. Cook until the wine has pretty much evaporated. That will take another five minutes or so.
3. Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Let it bubble way gently for twenty to thirty minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
4. When the sauce is almost, cook your spaghetti according to the packet’s instructions. My method is to bring a pan of water to the boil. I add a good pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil to the water before I add the spaghetti. Once the water has returned to the boil, the spaghetti usually takes about 9 minutes but do check the packet for further instructions. Drain the pasta and mix the spaghetti with the sauce.
5. Serve the pasta with a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley and basil, and a sprinkling of finely grated Parmesan cheese.
Storecupbaord Essential: Tinned Tomatoes
While we wait out the winter, it’s essential to have a good stock of high-quality tinned tomatoes in your storecupboard. Like anything, tinned tomatoes can vary massively from tin to tin. I find the De Cecco brand really reliable and I also like Bunalun Organic tinned tomatoes.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on 9th of February 2017