One, Two, Three …

If you ask 10 people “what constitutes healthy cooking and eating?” you may get 10 answers. I have dear friends who’ve adopted the South Beach diet, various renditions of Atkins, raw food only consumption (I sooo cannot go there), a cancer prevention diet that doesn’t allow any oil (not even cold pressed) and more. My own thoughts are less rule oriented and based more on moderation with a heavy dose of fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains and few processed foods.

 However, I’m as busy as the next person and I do sometimes rely on canned and packaged ingredients. If I think it’s basically healthy, do I include it in the Decidedly Healthy or Horridly Decadent  blog hop? Right now, I’ll go with a yes although a specification is the recipe does not rely much on packaged foods. Edward de Bono, author 6 Thinking Hats, cautions “If you never change your mind, why have one?”

The LA Times Top 10 underappreciated superfoods highlighted:  “Did you know that a can of tomatoes is loaded with vitamin C, fiber, potassium and iron? What makes these ruby gems even more special is their rich load of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that becomes more available to your body when it is cooked. Lycopene has a host of benefits, including inactivating free radicals, protecting against cancer and slowing the development of atherosclerosis which leads to heart disease. Stir canned tomatoes into pasta dishes, soups, stews, curries, casseroles, Mexican dishes and side dishes for delicious, nutritious comfort.” So, without more ado, canned tomatoes plus two ingredients is going to get you a great sauce.

Now, I do take a detour from the original Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking recipe. A friend who moved to London was always stopping at Costco when in the states to pick up her box of tomatoes stewed with Oregano and Basil because that’s how she liked to make this recipe. It’s the way I roll as well.

  • Two 14.5 or one 28-ounce can Stewed Italian recipe tomatoes with their juice    <If you are lucky enough to have your own tomatoes, then skip the cans and use 2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes (skin and simmer 10 minutes OR simmer and run through food mill) to make the original Marcella recipe>
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter – this is KEY, do not substitute oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half (so you see the layers like rings of a tree)

Place this all in a saucepan and simmer about 45 minutes. Then remove the onion (either toss, or if you’re a fan, cut and munch it up while doing other tasks).  I like to take out the stick blender after I’ve removed the onion and blend up about half the sauce, leaving some good bits. That’s it – you have a light tomato sauce that tastes like something your favorite restaurant might have pulled together from garden fresh tomatoes. This is not a thick sauce and certainly nothing like what you get in a jar from the store. Serve over your favorite pasta with a dose of fresh grated cheese. Once you’ve tried it – your mind will soar with its possibilities; I’m debating on doing a batch without the herbs and blending it simply as a luscious tomato soup.

If you search Google on this recipe, you will find oodles of food bloggers and experts over the years extolling the virtues and varieties of this sauce. I am not the first. Butter is what makes it roll over your tongue and satisfy your taste more than any ingredient. Marcella was brilliant when she added it to this sauce.