Monday, January 18, 2010

chunky tomato sauce and brown butter

Life is kind with me, I've never really had to 'watch' what I eat. Blame it on my nervousness. Genes. Or just plain luck.
Carbs? Give me a whole plate of it.
Cream, butter? Bring it on. Staff have seen me eat whipped cream by the spoonful and the amount of butter I put on bread is quite shameful a sight.

When I feel lazy, we often eat pasta. Maybe it ends up being more work than another possible meal, but it seems simple in my mind.

Tonight I sauteed the penne in olive oil and pepper to give it a nice crunchy texture, then topped it with a vegetarian tomato sauce. We ate it with crusty bread and brown butter (that I had done for our dinner guests the previous evening, but totally forgot... It seems like every time I have guests, I forget at least one thing - how I long to be the perfect host!)

Easy Chunky Tomato Sauce

10 pearl onions, cut in half
1/2 cup red wine
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 rib celery, cubed
1 Chinese eggplant, cubed
1 can good quality canned tomatoes
1 bird's eye chili, minced
Olive oil
Kale, chopped
optional: black olives, capers, parmesan

Simmer the onions in red wine, let reduce until almost no liquid is left. Add a bit of olive oil, then garlic, saute for a few minutes, add celery and eggplant. Cook for a few minutes, add tomatoes and chili. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. Add about 1/4 cup olive oil, let warm through, add kale just before serving. Top with chopped kalamata olives, capers and parmesan.

Brown Butter

In a small pan, gently heat the butter until it turns a nutty brown color. I usually test it out every few minutes with a white spoon: just insert it into the pan and see the color. The darker, the nuttier. Strain the butter and let cool. When it is set, whip it in a mixer until fluffy. You can add herbs, salt flakes, pepper, spices... I like mine plain with sea salt.

If you don't have time to wait for it to cool, have some ice in a large bowl. Place this bowl under the mixing bowl as you whip, it will cool down fast.

You can roll the butter in parchment paper and slice it to serve. Makes butter special, an extra little something to impress your guests!

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