Monday, September 5, 2011

Quick & Easy Tomato Sauce

Toward the end of my marathon training I start to run out of pasta ideas.  For the last couple of weeks, I've been boring with my pre-run pasta dinners or I've been trying out some pasta restaurants around town.  This Friday I was scouring my brain, trying to figure out what to eat before my last 20-mile run of this training season.  I started checking out some runner websites and was immediately bombarded with conflicting information what what to eat pre-run.  Eat carbs!  Only certain carbs!  Eat carbs for the entire week before!  Pasta is best!  No - potatoes!  No - SWEET potatoes!  Don't eat veggies!  I felt like those commercials for internet information overload.  Then my coworker gave me great advice: just stick to what you know works.  I've been doing this for nearly four years and I've never had a problem with a standard pasta dinner.  Something simple, something tasty, and I'm ready to run.  I did take away a few key points from the websites, which warned that certain foods may irritate your stomach.  So avoid dishes high in cream or dairy, excessively spicy foods, and anything with a ton of fiber because that can cause cramping.  Noted!

In my search for a new pasta dish, I kept coming across amazing-sounding dinners that were filled with heavy cream and had "five cheeses" in the title.  Instead of getting discouraged, I switched my focus.  In my adult years I've grown to like pasta with a hearty amount of tomato sauce.  So I found a super simple recipe for tomato sauce on the Cooks Illustrated website.  I clicked "print" and was ready to rock. 

This tomato sauce is very quick and very easy to make.  It uses a lot of staple pantry items and canned tomatoes, which cuts down on a lot of the time.  I switched around the recipe a bit, using crushed tomatoes instead of diced, doubling the amount of garlic and basil, and adding in a quick splash of red wine.  Overall though, it was a tasty sauce filled with sweet, tomato flavor.  Is it the most amazing sauce I've ever had?  Probably not.  But given a choice between this super simple sauce and buying a jar of sauce from the grocery store, I'll take this any day!

1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
3 tbls olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp water
Splash of red wine (optional)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)
1/4 tsp sugar
Big handful of fresh basil, chopped

Push the garlic through a garlic press into a small bowl and add in the 1 tsp of water.  Heat a 10-inch pan over medium heat.  Add in the olive oil and garlic.  Saute until the garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. 

Add the can of tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has reduced.  Midway through, add a splash of red wine. 

Once the tomato mixture has reduced, add the salt, pepper, sugar, and basil.  Stir consistently for one minute.  Serve over pasta and top with a light sprinkle of cheese.

This recipe will make enough sauce for 3-4 servings of pasta., what the heck am I going to eat the night before the marathon?!?!

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