I love to experiment with food and cooking is not just a hobby but passion with me. I am not a food blogger yet I love to share the simple dishes I make in my kitchen. Nothing exotic but something that is healthy and filling. Pasta is a “quick meal” option for me any day.
Dry whole wheat pasta is my choice when it comes to Italian cuisine. I make my own variations of sauces and additions to the dish depending on the seasonal availability of stuff that can go with the main dish.
Here we will talk about the fresh tomato sauce for pasta and its variations. A perfect, well executed sauce with tomatoes can enhance the flavor of any pasta dish. The sauce must be used as a condiment , just enough to coat each strand or piece of pasta. I don’t prefer to make it as a ‘gravy’ that collects at the bottom of the dish.
The best way to prepare wheat pasta is to cook it until it is within a minute of being done and then drain and toss it in the stove which is still on the sauce. It helps the pasta to cook further and absorb all the flavours from the sauce. Pasta should be cooked al dente in my opinion.
I use cheese sparingly as it masks the flavours of the dish. A slight drizzle on top is all it takes.
With fresh tomato as foundation of these sauces you may add meat, veggies , herbs or anything you wish to the dish or simply enjoy the earthy basic Pomodero sauce with oregano or garlic as I prefer.
These recipes are for about 100 gms of boiled pasta.
This tomato Concasse sauce is also called Arrabbiata Sauce. Use two-three tablespoons of red wine if desired. You can remove the red pepper for the basic concasse recipe. You can use this sauce to make Cottage Cheese in Arrabbiata sauce . Use fresh cubed cottage cheese (Paneer) for this. Toss the cubes in when the sauce is ready. Let it simmer till the cottage cheese absorbs all the flavors.
For tomato concasse sauce you will need :
Red ripe plum tomatoes – 5 large ones
Red bell pepper (charred) – 1/2
Chopped garlic – 2 heaped tablespoon (I love the flavor)
Chopped onion – 1/2 cup
Tomato ketchup -1/2 cup
Oregano – 1 teaspoon
Chilli flakes – 1 teaspoon
Salt – to taste
Sugar – 1 teaspoon ( if the tomatoes are sour)
Crushed black peppercorns – 1 teaspoon
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Fresh herbs – according to taste. I usually use basil, thyme, parsley or coriander.
To make the sauce –
Blanch and skin the tomatoes. Always use the ripe plum tomatoes. The desi variety is usually sour and doesn’t give the desired color. Discard the seeds and the yellow part on the top. Puree them and keep aside. I char the tomatoes sometimes just to be more adventurous. 🙂 Char and skin the red bell pepper. purée that too.
In a heavy bottom pan heat olive oil and add finely chopped garlic. they them become slighty golden then add onions. Onion help to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. When the onions become translucent add tamatoesand bell pepper purée and stir gently. Let the flavours merge together. Keep the flame low. Then add chilli flakes, oregano, salt , sugar and crushed peppercorns. Add tomato ketchup and stir it well. Cook till it is smooth and nicely textured. Always make the sauce in open pan or it will have a bland steamed and weak taste. Use wooden spoon for stirring. Toss in the fresh herbs at this point , add the boiled pasta to the sauce and gently fold it in till its properly covered in sauce. Serve hot garnished with herbs and a drizzle of cheese.
You can add anything like meat, sautéed vegetables etc as per your taste to this basic pasta sauce. I prefer to enjoy both the variations without any extra additions. Improvisation and experimentation is the key to good food. One good option is to use fresh tender chopped spring onions either in the sauce or as garnish.
Two variations of Mint chutney tomato sauce with distinct flavours of Indian Gooseberry and raw mango. When using this variation with tomato concasse please do not use any other herbs.
For this sauce you need to make the traditional coriander and mint chutney either with Indian gooseberries (Awla) or raw mangoes ( Kairi). Replace awla with raw mango. Awla is a winter fruit and raw mango is for summer so you can enjoy this sauce in both the seasons.
To make the mint chutney sauce variation
Cut the amount of tomato ketchup to half and add the mint coriander chutney to it. Mix well and add it to the basic sauce. You can stir it in at the last point before serving too. This gives the pasta a different flavor.
So we have a perfect medley of high quality proteins, carbs, minerals and vitamins in these simple variations of fresh tomato based pasta sauces. Be adventurous and tell me how would you use them and with what other variations.