Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Only Tomato Sauce You'll Ever Need

vegan spaghetti and tofu balls

I'm reading this book about French parenting (and finding it much more useful and less frivolous than I thought it was going to be when I added it to my holds list at the library) and contained within is a story about Jane Birkin that amused me greatly. Apparently the anglophone Birkin could never remember the proper French article to go with "baguette". So instead of worrying about ordering "une baguette" or "un baguette", she always just ordered "deux baguettes". Two baguettes are better than one. The author of book uses this story to illustrate her baguette consumption while pregnant in Paris. I totally understand. I've been all over bread and pasta and other carbs lately. Which is why you're getting another post that results in pasta. Though the recipe I'm giving you is really for this sauce.

  spaghetti sauce prep

 This is a simple, no fail recipe that never goes wrong. Even the time I forgot it was cooking and left it on the stove for half an hour longer than I was supposed it, it still turned out great. The only catch is that you need a fair bit of time to complete this recipe, so save it for a weekend or even a day when you're working from home and can take a quick cooking break in the afternoon. This also freezes well and it is equally good when made from fresh tomatoes or canned. Like many great recipes, it starts with an easy mix of chopped carrots, celery, and onion (called a "mirepoix" if we want to keep with the French theme). These create a perfect base of flavour and texture for the sauce, but because of the long cooking time you won't end up with noticeable veggie chunks in your sauce. Especially if you give it a brief whiz with a hand blender after it's finished cooking.

  where it begins

My favourite way to eat this, of course, is in a very traditional "spaghetti and meatballs" way. For this past week's meal, I made a quick batch of these tofu balls which come via Isa Chandra Moscowitz via the classic cookbook "Tofu Cookery". I used almond butter instead of peanut butter in mine because I was making this for my parents and my mom heartily dislikes peanut butter. I also think the almond butter is a more subtle taste, which I like.

 I made these once for my vegan friend Adam when I was over at his place for dinner and his partner, Gary (not a vegetarian in the slightest) made no bones about how gross he thought the concept of tofu was. It was a summer night and they'd left the front door open with just the screen door closed to let air in. When we sat down to eat, Adam closed the door and Gary wanted to know why. "Because I don't want people walking by looking in while I eat," Adam told him. Gary snorted loudly. "Why? Are you worried someone's going to come in and steal your TOFU BALLS?" No one stole our tofu balls. Least of all Gary.

Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
2 stalks of celery, chopped small
1 carrot, chopped small
3 cloves of garlic
2 large cans (32 ounces) of diced tomatoes
(or the rough equivalent in skinned, fresh, chopped tomatoes)
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
2 tsp maple syrup

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook until somewhat tender (about ten minutes) stirring regularly.

Add garlic and cook for an additional three to five minutes, stirring constantly.

Add tomatoes and herbs, season lightly with salt and pepper.

When sauce is simmering, cover, reduce heat to low, and leave it for one hour.

Stir in maple syrup, and season with more salt and pepper if you like. You can also blend it a bit if you like your sauce smoother.

Makes lots. This easily served myself and my parents (the Man of Science was away on business eating sidedishes in non-vegetarian restaurants and hence missed the whole thing), plus I had several portions leftover for lunches through the week.

Some Notes:

-Blogger AND Flickr have changed the way they work recently, which has thrown off my blogging significantly. If my pictures and layout look a little funny over the next little while, it's because I'm getting used to all the changes.

-Hey, do you watch Bones? I didn't until recently when I got sucked into some episodes when my Mom was watching them. Now I'm a bit hooked. What really sold me, of course, is that all the food that Emily Deschanel's character eats on the show is vegan. Even when she and Booth were having ice cream a few episodes ago, they had two separate ice cream containers and her's was obviously So Delicious. Love that.



foodfeud said...

I think I know which book yr talking about, it looked interesting even though I don't care about parenting... Anyway. The sauce (and balls!) look delicious

Amey said...

your tofu balls look perfect! I love tomato sauce so much... your recipe sounds great!

Mattheworbit said...

There is nothing better than a good tomato sauce, with some good, al-dente pasta.. *drool*.

Love those tofu balls, too.. How simple... how delicious!

Anonymous said...

God Gary's hilarious


Nicole said...

This looks damn delicious. Love the story about your friend, too. :)