There is a local Italian market I go to frequently named Soffrito’s, on Canyon Meadow’s drive. I go there frequently, they sell a lot of goods including gluten-free pasta, italian import goods, specialty salts, cheese, sausage, and herbs. Recently, they’ve started offering a wide variety of olive oils and vinegars that they allow you to sample- Labeled with where they came from (most are from BC), how they are made, and what level of phenols and other associated chemicals that they have.
I love these Riga tomatoes actually – they have a TON of flavour! If I can’t get my hands on enough fresh tomatoes or local jarred ones from the farm these are my go-to.
It was decided that I would be making a pasta sauce with the tomatoes and basil so I picked up a bunch of ground beef and pork while I was at it. No sense sticking to one type of meat when there is so much variety out there! I also got myself some more tomato puree and some tomato paste.
Tomato paste helps everything thicken up without having to add flour.
First I cut up my vegetables. Sometimes I do this while the beef is browning, but I wanted to add a little bit of my vegetables in with it to help spice up the meat. I used Onion, Garlic, Carrot, Celery, fresh Basil, and mushroom. I also added in some bay leaf, thyme, oregano, and a small dash of chilli powder.
It’s important to make sure your vegetables are a uniform size. This helps them all cook at the same rate of time, while making your end product more impressive.
now, to the cooking!
First: Brown your beef. I add in some of my onion and garlic, and some of the dried herbs. browning the beef first seems to give it a much better texture, and we can get the flavours of the beef going a lot better this way. It also gives me a chance to drain out the fat that cooks out of the beef – we don’t need that.
as usual, if you have more beef than pan do this in batches. It cooks faster and tastes better than if you do it all at once. Once your beef has browned up, let it drain while you start to saute the veg in the same pan. I add more olive oil, and then a dash of wine or water to help get all the brown bits from the beef off the bottom and all over the veg.
Here you can see that everything has softened and gotten a delicious caramel colour to it:
The basil and mushrooms have not been added yet. We’ll get to them, hold your horses! At this point I opened up the big tin of tomatoes and got them in the pot, stirring everything up. They take a while to break down and cook out, but it’s well worth it! This gets you a lot more flavour and texture than if you used a can of tomato sauce.
Don’t be afraid to moosh and mash at the tomatoes with your wooden spoon! It’s part of the fun, and it’ll help them break down a lot better. You want your tomatoes to simmer for quite a bit before adding in the tomato paste, tomato puree, and ground beef. If you add in the beef too early, you’ll destroy the texture of it. This is why I cook it before hand,and reserve it.
add in the ground meat, the tomato puree and tomato paste. Cook it down for a bit to get things thickened. Once I have a fairly thick flavour and consistency, I’ll add in the chopped mushrooms and basil. I can then cook that up for about an hour after adjusting salt and spices, or add in some water and cook it for much longer for a more developed finish.
That’s pretty much all there is to it! At this point I put on some gluten-free pasta (the corn Pasta Soffrito sells VERY delicious. My roommates actually prefer it to wheat pasta when I’m willing to share it!
I toss my pasta with a bit of fresh olive oil before service as the stuff I have is high quality as well as delicious. If I don’t have it around I just use butter
Hopefully at this point you’re able to make a delicious pasta sauce for yourself, it really isn’t that hard… I’m thankful for having access to a wide variety of gluten free goods, so that I can continue having pasta as part of my food-kit. Though, this sauce goes great on it’s own – but is better with a carrier even if it’s just bread.
Until next week,