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Ina Garten

Big Tomato — It’s What’s for Dinner

big-tomato

The original plan was to make a honkin’ big batch of Pasta alla Vecchia Bettolana using the jumbo can of plum tomatoes. But then stuffed green peppers sounded good, too, what with the green peppers being garden fresh. That should leave just the right amount tomatoes for standard-issue spaghetti sauce. Fortunately, this last stroke of brilliance hit when standing at the meat counter so a pound of the good Italian sausage made it home without the need for a second trip. And the four cans of tomato sauce in the pantry could be called into action.

The results: Eight meals of Pasta alla Vecchia Bettolana, ditto spaghetti sauce, now in the freezer, plus stuffing for four meals of stuffed green peppers on hand. One or two less meals to plan each week for a goodly while. Zero cans of tomato anything in the pantry.

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Tomato Fail Times Two

Tomato 2

This year’s tomato harvest is dismal. Pathetic even.

Last year the output was smaller than usual so we figured it was time for a new plan. Probably that blight thing, so give up on planting tomatoes in the garden for a year. Try pots on the deck. Fresh tomatoes just steps from the back door. Not so much. Mostly dry, hot summer punctuated by periods of deluge. Plants either too dry (even watering multiple times a day) or too wet.

What to do about spaghetti sauce!

Costco to the rescue!

Tomato 1

This has to be the solution, right?

Then The Splendid Table re-posts a story on canned tomatoes. Clearly, I’ve been dupped by a PR scam. But I’m certainly not going to throw away this jumbo can of tomatoes.

Maybe a little extra vodka in the Pasta alla Vecchia Bettola will cover any shortcomings. And maybe put some of that vodka in a glass rather than in the sauce. . .

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Tomato Sauce II

Tomato sauce

Winter remains, as expected, here in the Midwest. Mid-day temps mostly in the teens all week. Turning the oven on for a couple of hours to make the Pasta alla Vecchia Bettolana seemed an absolutely splendid idea.

Also absolutely splendid is this sauce! I anticipated a flavorful outcome, and using Italian plum tomatoes (rather than plain ol’ supermarket variety) no doubt added to the flavor. Still super rich even after cutting the cream by a quarter.

Now I’m trying to figure out why/if the oven cooking vs. simmering on the stove makes a difference. A good friend with oodles of cooking experience (former food editor for a major magazine) wasn’t convinced method significantly affected outcome in this case. My guess was the sauce perhaps steams rather than simmers. She shrugged – not a big diff.

Need to do a little investigating – and with at least an hour and a half of cooking time, maybe that’s time smartly spent researching.

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