San Marzano Tomatoes: a variety of plum tomatoes, are considered by many chefs to be the best paste tomatoes in the world. (Wikipedia)
San Marzano tomato
The key to a delicious spaghetti sauce is keeping it simple and using the correct type of tomatoes. I’ve tried different types of tomatoes but the best tomatoes I recommend are san marzano tomatoes. These types of tomatoes have thinner skins versus other tomatoes with thicker flesh and fewer seeds. On it’s own these tomatoes have a stronger taste, sweeter and less acidic, perfect basis for a spaghetti sauce.
2 thin slices of pancetta (if you want a vegetarian version feel free to omit this as it will still be tasty)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
fresh basil leaves
Chop the pancetta into small pieces and fry over medium to high heat. While it is cooking, mince the garlic. Add it to the pan without draining any of the fat. If you feel there is too much fat or want a healthier version by all means, drain the fat prior to adding the garlic or skip completely as it will still taste good. Stir the mixture approximately 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the San Marzano tomatoes including the liquid being careful not to splatter yourself. Mash the tomatoes in the pan and cook the sauce over medium to high heat until the sauce is reduced by two thirds – you want to aim for a dry sauce.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Cook spaghetti noodles according to the package (unless you feel motivated to make fresh pasta) and toss with the sauce. Plate the spaghetti, sprinkle shredded Parmesan over the dish and slices of fresh mozzarella. Add torn basil leaves for garnish. If you want to kick it up a notch, drizzle a bit of basil oil over the dish and enjoy.
When people think of the top 3 most common herbs, tarragon probably isn’t on that list. Top 3 herbs usually includes basil, rosemary, and thyme. Lately I have become more fond of tarragon the more I incorporate it into my cooking. I have to admit that I didn’t discover tarragon until a few months ago.
Tarragon can be found wherever other herbs are sold, fresh or dried. My preference is fresh tarragon as you can’t beat the taste of fresh herbs though in a pinch I’ve used dried tarragon. Tarragon is quite aromatic reminiscent of anise. The description on the back of the package I have describes it as “anise and vanilla scent and a hot, sweet taste”. This may sound unappetizing but it really is a delicious addition to meals. Only the leaves are used in cooking and is suitable with fish, seafood, eggs, chicken, meats and sauces. From my experience, I love incorporating tarragon with chicken. I find it enhances the taste of chicken without being overpowering. I’ve used it when making brine, roast chicken, and tarragon chicken pasta. if you’ve never cooked with tarragon I highly recommend it.
One of the easiest, most versatile sauce/condiment to make is pesto. Why anyone would purchase store bought pesto is beyond me. The only reason I can think of having a jar lying around is the convenience if you can’t make it to the grocery store. Pesto is packed full of flavor where it’s main use is in pastas. However you can also use pesto in soups, hamburger dressing, butter, salads, fish, meatballs – the options are endless. Pesto requires 5 main ingredients with basil being the star. I highly recommend making pesto from scratch if you’ve never done so and experiment with different types of basil.
2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
2-3 garlic cloves (feel free to add more depending on your preference but note the garlic is not cooked so you don’t want to overpower the basil)
1 cup olive oil
1/2 Parmesan cheese
dash of salt *optional
I don’t measure the ingredients so the above is a rough estimate. Once you have all the ingredients, place the first 3 in a food processor and pulse. Drizzle in the olive oil until it is the desired consistency you want. Stir in the cheese and add salt per your preference. Mix with cooked pasta or whatever you want.