My wonderful mother, Suzie Q, taught me that ANYONE can make their own pasta sauce. She is a smart lady and cooks hers the night before in the crock pot. But, because Mr. Grumpy and I spent all Sunday on the couch recovering from our 14 hour drive back from Hilton Head, I began to panic that I hadn't gone to the grocery store. Mr. Grumpy offered to jump down to the market downstairs and buy a jar of sauce, when it occurred to me that I had all the ingredients we needed to make a delicious homemade sauce ourselves. Without buying anything. Ah-mah-zing.
Now, disclaimer that I have NO Italian in my blood, except maybe for like one of my Irish family members back in 200 AD that apparently had a love affair with a Roman soldier (this may be an exaggerated story, as it was told to me when I was 8 – a time when I had a difficult time not fabricating my stories. I have since improved… right??? RIGHT?). But, super scandalous, right?!?! I know… us Steiners are just FULL of fun.
This impromptu dinner ended up being delicious, and way better than anything we could have bought and been forced to pay $50 for dinner.
So, let's get cooking, people.
What You'll Need:
- 1 28 oz. jar of crushed tomatoes
- 1 15 oz. jar of zesty tomato sauce
- 1 15 oz. jar of fire-roasted garlic diced tomatoes
- 1 box of rigatoni, cooked and drained
- 2 cups of grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cup of sweet red peppers, diced
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried basil, plus 1 tbsp
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 1 tsp pepper, divided
- 1 tsp sugar
- 6 small cloves of garlic (about 1-2 tbsp), minced (I use a grater to mince our garlic because our mincer broke and I refused to spend money on a new one. It actually works quite well).
- 1 small red pepper, chopped
- 1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Non-stick cooking spray with olive oil (Pam has this)
First, we'll start by roasting the tomatoes and peppers. I always thought this must not be a skill I knew how to do. But I love the smell and taste of roasted peppers and tomatoes. So, I improvised, and based of conversations I've had in the lunchroom at work, figured out how to roast things. First, preheat your oven to 450. Then, cut up your tomatoes and peppers. Sprinkle them on a baking dish, and drizzle them with 3 tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle 1 tsp of basil, plus 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Lightly toss it with a spoon so that all the tomatoes and peppers are evenly coated. Roast (put the pan in the oven) for 25 minutes, stirring halfway in between.
In the meantime, heat the remaining olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions, 1 tbsp of basil, oregano, salt, pepper and parsley, and let it cook for about 3 minutes, until onions are see-throughy. Then, add the garlic and let that cook an additional minute, until you can smell it. Then, add the crushed tomato, diced tomato and tomato sauce and stir. Cover, and cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, RELAX. OH, and cook your pasta. That part is pretty important. Cook it for about 1-2 minutes less than the package directs.
Once your tomatoes and peppers are done being roasted, take them out of the oven, and add them into the sauce. Stir, and let that cook covered for another 6-8 minutes. You just want it to cook long enough for the flavors to mix. Set your oven heat to 350.
Next, take a baking dish and spray it with cooking spray. Add the drained rigatoni, and then slowly pour the sauce over the pasta. You'll have about 5-6 cups of sauce. Lightly shake your baking dish so the sauce moves in between the pasta and goes all the way to the bottom. Then, sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese browns slightly and the sauce is bubbly.
Even Mr. Grumpy asked for seconds on this one – and despite our sore throats and his cough that we developed the last day of vacation (hoping it's not the Return of the Strep Throat coming) – it was exactly what we needed.