11 May 2011

I love it when a plan comes together: Three-tomato sauce

Sometimes, things just come together.

I’ve taken what feels like a nearly 9-month long hiatus from cooking. No, not because I was pregnant – but because I’ve been in school. I went back in fall to get a marketing management certificate through UW. Only one course per week, but it’s left me with little brainspace to do much else.

My cooking skills have definitely suffered. We’ve eaten a lot of (gasp) frozen meals. And I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve tried to cook of late, only to get distracted halfway through and flub up a meal.

There are just 12 days left of class (yes, I’m counting). This past weekend, on the eve of my rough-draft presentation for this quarter’s practicum, I felt a lift. I was inspired – actually excited – to get into the kitchen.

I had a general idea of what I wanted to make. We’d picked up some frozen tuna steaks from Trader Joe’s, and I wanted to pair them with a spicy, robust puttanesca-type sauce – based on the one from my favorite vegetarian cookbook. We also had some grape tomatoes on the counter that needed to be used and a new pouch of sundried tomatoes calling to me.

And so, three-tomato sauce was born: A sweet, spicy, chunky sauce bursting with three types of tomatoes + tangy olives and capers. I love the way the grape tomatoes and kalamata olives looked in the saucepan – echoes of each other, one bright red and one dark purple. I wish I had a photo to show you, but I just ate the last bite.

I’m looking forward to what awaits – more free time on the horizon, so close I can almost taste all the deliciousness in my future.

Three-tomato sauce (inspired by puttanesca)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 small jar tomato paste
  • 1 c. grape tomatoes
  • ½ c. sundried tomatoes (I left them whole, but next time will cut in half)
  • Approx 20 kalamata olives + some of their brine
  • 2 T. large capers + some of their brine
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add red pepper to taste. Stir in tomato paste, grape tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, kalamatas/brine, and capers/brine. Simmer to let flavors meld, approximately 20 minutes. (Note that at simmer stage, I transferred the sauce from the sauté pan to a covered pot – I needed the pan for my tuna steaks. You could cook it in the sauté pan, though – just cover it to help seal in spatters.)

Can be served as a protein topper (over tuna or chicken) or as a pasta sauce. I bet this would even be good heaped, cold, onto bruschetta.

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