Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spicy Arrabiata Sauce

I LOVE pasta! In fact, I love all pasta! Ravioli, spaghetti, lasagna, manicotti, and gnocchi – the list goes on. What I don’t love is paying for pasta because it is one of the easiest and most inexpensive dishes to make at home. Sure, there is the wonderful ambiance of an Italian restaurant: the wine, low lighting and candles, the music, intimate seating, and of course there is the amazing smell of garlic! Well folks, I have good news for you! You can easily recreate this atmosphere in your very own home! AND…since you are in the privacy of your own home, you can even spice the romance up a notch J.

This arrabiata sauce is thick, spicy and oh so delicious! I always like to hide extra veggies when I can, so I’ve tossed in some chopped carrots and celery. Feel free to leave these ingredients out if you’d like. However, you cannot leave out the fresh tomatoes, handful of basil, and garlic. The fresher the ingredients – the better!

Once you taste this sauce and realize how easy it is to make, I can promise that you’ll never buy a jar of sauce again!

Most of us probably think of basil as an herb and nothing more but basil actually has unique health-properties that are very beneficial. The two main areas are basil’s flavonoids and volatile oils. The flavonoids in basil actually provide protection at a cellular level. They protect the cells and chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. The volatile oils on the other hand possess anti-bacterial properties and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show that when produce is washed in a solution containing either basil or thyme oil that the number of infectious bacteria (that causes diarrhea) is reduced. So the next time you make a big salad, whip up basil vinaigrette to ensure the produce you’re about to eat is safe.

2 pounds of ripe tomatoes
½ of an onion, chopped
½ cup of diced carrots
½ cup of diced celery
Chopped basil, (I used a good handful)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the whole tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for just a couple of minutes, or until the skin starts to crack. Transfer them to a colander and gently remove the skin. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

In a saucepan sauté the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery for approximately 5 minutes.

Next, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes until thickened. Serve over your favorite pasta or spaghetti squash (or a healthier, lighter twist!). Bon Appetito!

* If you prefer your sauce less chunky, transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender for a few seconds and voila!

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