After three long, wonderful weeks up in Washington with my family, my long absent heartmate, and his family, I have finally returned back to Los Angeles. My first thought upon disembarking from the plane was 'wow, I don't need my coat down here'; the second, 'thank God - I'm only twenty minutes from my kitchen!'
In case you haven't seen it, my kitchen is, frankly, a wonderland. At least it is to me. Every tool and gadget is exactly where I expect it to be - because I put it there - and I know for a fact that everything I own is well within it's expiration date (don't ask). Now, having only recently arrived, I made do last night with a bowl of Trader Joe's Miso Soup and some popcorn that my friend Megan brought over. But today, I hit the store and let my stifled creativity loose on an old favorite. I used what I remembered of an old Emeril pasta sauce recipe and then added two of my favorite things. Broccoli and cauliflower. Broccli is good for you and delicious in any capacity, but especially when roasted. Cauliflower has this amazing capacity for creaminess when cooked just right - you can even use it as a replacement for mashed potatoes! But here, I use it to turn my homemade marinara into a decadent fake alfredo.
I call it Falstaffe sauce for two reasons. 1) Because Falstaffe (Sir John, from ol' Shake's Henry IV 1-2 and Merry Wives of Windsor) was aware that life is a charade and would probably appreciate the sneaky nature of this misleading recipe. And 2) because poor, portly Sir John wouldn't have been nearly so portly if he'd been eating this instead of butter and cream sauce. :)
Broccoli and cauliflower, lovingly mixed in olive oil and balsamic, roasted and then blended with tomatoes and garlic to make a delicious, creamy pasta sauce.
1 head broccoli
1 head cauliflower
3 heads roasted garlic (or more if you like)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
.25 cup tomato paste
1.5 tsp salt
.25 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
.25 tsp italian seasoning
.25 tsp dried basil
2 cans whole italian tomatoes with juice (28 oz each)
Salt and pepper to taste.
1/2 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Prep- Wash and cut broccoli into 1 inch thick pieces. Wash and cut cauliflower into 1 inch thick pieces. Chop large red onion into 1x1 inch pieces (or smaller if you prefer). Open both cans of tomatoes and pour into a mixing bowl, juices and all, and crush (either with your hands or with a potato masher).
Roasted garlic: Peel the outer layers of garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the cloves intact. Cut off about 1/4 inch of the tops of the cloves, exposing the individual cloves. Place the garlic bulb in a baking pan. [If you're making a lot of these, then use a muffin pan. If not, then just toss them in a small bread pan or something similar.] Drizzle olive oil over each bulb and make sure it's well coated, then cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the bulbs feel soft when pressed. Take the pan out, and set it to the side. If you're serving folks, you might want to make a few extra bulbs and let people munch on the delicious roasted garlic as an appetizer. Just remember to save three of them for the recipe.
Broc and Caul: Mix cut broccoli in a bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Repeat for cauliflower. Use olive oil to coat a couple baking pans and use one pan for the broccoli and one for the cauliflower, trying to keep from making any puddles of olive oil on the pan. Put both pans in the 400 F oven for 20-30 minutes. [I like my veggies a little crispier so I tend to leave them in 10-15 minutes longer, but its up to you.]
Sauce base: While that's cooking, take out a large saucepan and saute the chopped red onion in olive oil over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes. Add 1 tbsp minced garlic and cook with the onion for another minute. Then add tomato paste, salt, balsamic vinegar (I love this stuff), crushed red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, and basil, and cook for a minute. Smell that. Awesome, right? Now add the tomatoes you prepped earlier, juice and all, and stir with all the other ingredients so they're all well combined. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take out the broccoli and cauliflower when they're done and empty the entire cauliflower pan into a bowl along with the non-leafy broccoli parts. For this portion of the program, you're going to need a nifty thing called an immersion blender [if you don't have one, buy one - it's one of the most handy tools I own]. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can throw the aforementioned things into a food processor or blender, but you'll have more clean up than me. Blend all the cauliflower and the broccoli stems together. Serve the leafy parts of the roasted broccoli on top of the pasta, or mixed with the sauce, as a side dish, or stick them in a tupperware box and eat them later as a snack. Heck, eat them while you're cooking. They're delicious.
Back to the sauce. Add the roasted garlic cloves you made first to the simmering sauce and stir to combine. Simmer for another 30-40 minutes, or until you taste test and find all the flavors alert and marching on your tongue.
Now. Add the cauliflower/broccoli blended mixture and stir. See how that marinara just turned into a soft pink creamy looking sauce?
Serve over pasta (I use whole wheat spaghetti or vegetable rotini), and enjoy. :)
Note: This recipe makes about 1.5 quarts of sauce. You can also use it as a creamy pizza sauce or a topping for steamed or roasted vegetables.
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