Sunday, September 18, 2011

Livid

Spice-phobics, beware - my latest use for the goodies of the garden is not the sauce for you!


If you look closely at the photo, you'll see all the makings of a great date-repellent: fresh Ontario garlic (I only used half the head, I was restrained!), a whole giant onion, and two (yes, two) habañeros. Everything made it's way (along with a carrot, sweet peppers, tomatoes, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and wine!) into my variation of a classic Roman pasta sauce that just so happens to be one of my all-time favourites. Arrabbiata (or "angry") sauce is traditionally a fairly "quick and dirty", simple recipe made from a blend of canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley and bell peppers with a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Tossed into penne, ziti or (my personal love) rotini, it's supposed to be one of those "thrill a bite" meals.

It's great. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with your Italian nonna's penne all'arrabbiata - but I was looking to take it a little step further. The base for example. Canned tomatoes are wonderful, and definitely have their place, but I had two huge bowls of fresh, ripe, sweet orbs still warm from my garden out back. Dried chili? Well, okay, if you don't have anything else... but I had three types of fresh chiles to choose from - cherries, fingers and the aforementioned Scotch bonnet (AKA habañero). Really, it was a no brainer what I was going to use! A few more minutes out back and I had an interesting two-legged carrot (a purple one, FTW!), two sweet peppers and a couple bunches of herbs perfect for this pseudo-Italian sugo.

The story behind our crop of habañeros is a funny one, to me at least: my rather overtly Italian stepfather, who prides himself on his garden knowledge, bought 4 or 5 of the pepper plants because he believed that "Scotch Bonnet" peppers were simply a small version of a bell pepper. Flash forward to the first (generous) crop of them, where he plucked one right off the vine a popped it whole into his mouth. The look on his face is one I will not soon be forgetting! A few days later found him with sliced fresh ones on a sandwich, followed by hours of moaning and groaning about how his mouth burned. I'm not immune either, though - while making this, I discovered a few cuts on my hands I never knew about, as well as learning the hard way that capsaicin has a nasty habit of lodging under one's fingernails. You've been warned!

It's all a worthy price to pay, though, if you're a chile-and garlic-head like me. While you only need a small serving for a punch of flavour, it's a lingering experience you'll never forget!


The Lazy, Angry Woman's Pasta Sauce
Makes 5 1/2 cups, 22 1/4-cup servings
2 tsp olive oil
1 large, sweet onion, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, roughly cut
2 sweet bell peppers (I used 1 cubanelle, 1 Shepherd), seeded and quartered
2 habañero peppers, seeded and halved
6 cloves garlic
3 lbs fresh tomatoes (mostly plum if you can), halved or quartered
1/4 cup red wine
1 sprig fresh thyme (I used my lemon thyme)
1 small sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped (about 1/2 tbsp)
1 tsp dried basil (was all I had, you could definitely use fresh at the end instead)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 packets stevia (or 4 tsp sugar)
1 tsp lemon juice
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  2. In a food processor, place the onion quarters and finely chop (do this by hand if you dont have one, or really like chopping!).
  3. Add to the pot and slowly cook, stirring, until golden and meltingly soft (about 10 minutes).
  4. In the food processor, finely chop the carrots and add to the cooked onions.
  5. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
  6. Process all the peppers and the garlic until minced (especially the habañeros!) and add to the pot. Cook, stirring, 7-8 minutes.
  7. Puree all the tomatoes in the processor.
  8. When peppers are tender, add the wine and stir well, then stir in the tomatoes, thyme sprig, rosemary, basil and salt.
  9. Lower heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until no longer "liquidy".
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. With an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor (since it's out), puree the sauce until smooth (or the texture you like).
  12. Stir in the stevia (or sugar) and lemon juice and serve or store.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 28.9
Total Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 63.1 mg
Total Carbs: 5.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 0.9 g
 
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