There seems to be this culinary myth that there are only two ways to have pasta sauce: home-made in a carefully supervised - meaning “slaved over”- pot or sauté pan OR store bought and direct out of a jar or can.
I say: SCR*W THAT!
There is a way to do pasta sauce in a “fixit and forget-it” way that will be just as tasty as anything you slaved over, and almost as effortless as using a store-bought product.
The trick is roasting.
Roasting meats and vegetables together softens them and brings out the best in their flavors while forcing them to release their juices to form an amazing sauce.
This sauce contains the veggies you’d find in vegetable based pasta sauces and in ratatouille, the classic French veggie dish, with a nice Italian sausage for meaty robustness.
Here’s How You Do It
Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep time: 15 Minutes
Roast and Cook Time: About an Hour
Serves 4 or more with pasta depending on appetites and how saucy your guests like it
6 Cups of Vegetables Chopped into Similar Sized Pieces – For this you want eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and mushrooms
2 Cups of Fresh Tomatoes, Coarsely Chopped
½ Cup of Olive Oil + more for the garlic
3 Tablespoons of Basil or Oregano or Mixed Italian Seasoning
1 Teaspoon of Salt + a little more for the garlic
Some Fresh Black Pepper – If you have the pre-ground stuff, it’s not ideal but feel free to use it
¼ Teaspoon of Hot Pepper flakes (Optional) – If you can’t handle spicy, don’t add it
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
1 Head of Garlic
1 Pound of Italian Sausages, cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces – I prefer the spicy kind, but if you like mild, get mild. While the grocery store has decent varieties, if you have an Italian grocer or butcher shop in your community, check it out. They most likely make their own from scratch and it will be WAY better than the other kinds because places like these grind their meat fresh and season mindfully.
Pasta to serve it with – I’m not going to site how much you should serve with this because some people like their pasta with more sauce than others. If in doubt, start with half of a 500 g box. If the pasta is too saucy for you, you can always make the other half.
1 Large Baking Pan
Lid for the pan OR Aluminum Foil
1 Knife and Cutting Board
Measuring Cups and Spoons
1 Serving Spoon or Spatula
1 Pair of Tongs
1 Pot to cook your pasta in
Preheat your oven to 350 oF.
Dump the vegetables and tomatoes in the pan and add the olive oil, basil or oregano or herb mix, the salt, pepper, and the hot pepper flakes if using.
Mix everything together with clean, bare hands.
Put the Italian Sausage pieces in the pan and mix everything again.
Cut the very top off the head of garlic and put it on top of two sheets of foil big enough to wrap it.
Drizzle a little Olive Oil over it and season with a pinch of salt.
Wrap the head of garlic in the foil and nestle the bundle among the veggies.
Cover your pan with a lid or foil and put it in the oven.
Set a timer for 35 minutes and walk away - this’d be a good time for a nap if you’re a light sleeper.
When the time is up, take the pan out of the oven, take off the lid, turn everything over with a spoon or spatula, cover the pan, and put it back in the oven.
Set a timer for 30 minutes and walk away again – if you need to shower or sort laundry, that’d be a good time to do it.
When the timer goes off, take the lid off the pan and remove the foil bundle of garlic and set it aside to cool.
Up the heat of the oven to 375 oF and leave the pan in. This will allow the flavors to get a little more concentrated and brown the sausage a bit.
Set a timer for 15 minutes and start making your pasta – DON’T RINSE THE PASTA WHEN IT’S DONE SO THE SAUCE WILL STICK.
Drain it and put it back in the pot.
Take the pan out of the oven and mix the tomato paste into the bubbling juices in the pan using your trusty spoon or spatula.
Open the garlic bundle and squeeze out some of the tender cloves. They should pop right of the peel. I’ve been known to use the whole head of garlic for this dish, but if you’re mindful of garlic breath, use less.
Mix everything together once more and then pour the entire contents of the baking dish into your pot of pasta.
Toss everything together with a pair of tongs and serve!
-Samantha R. Gold
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