Friday, 6 February 2015

Arrabbiata sauce from scratch

I don't know what you did in the recent holiday period, but I got my cook on. Cooking is one of those things that I love filling my spare time with, and lucky for me I actually cook all day long for one of my jobs (paid to do what you love? Winning!).

So here is one of my holiday period trials (don't worry, there will be plenty more filtering through over the coming weeks and months): home-made arrabbiata sauce- you know, the spicy tomato one that goes perfectly with pasta? I actually used mine to top my pan-fried ricotta gnocchi (recipe coming soon). It was a lot of fun! And so delicious. And I can imagine myself making big batches of this with the Italian Nonna I don't have and putting it into jars for all the family to last for months…

Yea ok, so I'm not Italian. But I do love pasta! And together with this sauce, they make the perfect pair. Best of all, you know exactly what's going into it and it's nothing but fresh ingredients.

A note to the cooks: I kept mine chunky, but you could whiz it up with a stick blender if you like a smoother consistency. And alter the amount of chilli depending on your taste for spice. This batch was medium in heat, but you could make it hotter with more chillies, or milder by taking out the seeds and white pith of the chilli (the hottest part).

Arrabbiata Sauce

6 medium tomatoes
1 medium red capsicum, deseeded and cut into quarters
½ brown onion, diced
1 small red chilli, finely chopped (or more if using larger, milder chillies)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or minced)
1 tsp oregano
Small pinch salt and pepper
  1. Roast capsicum: Place capsicum pieces skin side up on a baking tray lined with foil, along with whole garlic cloves. Bake at 200°C for ~15 minutes, or until skin starts to blacken. Gather up foil to enclose the capsicum (like a little parcel) and steam in the oven for a further 10 minutes. Remove capsicum from oven and place immediately into a bowl of ice cold water for a couple of minutes to blanch. Remove from water and peel off skin. Discard skin and set capsicum aside to cool slightly.
  2. Blanch tomatoes: Prick the skin of the tomatoes a couple of times each and place in a medium-sized saucepan of water. Cover and bring to the boil for ~10 minutes or until cracks appear in the skin of the tomatoes. Drain and place tomatoes in a bowl of ice cold water for a couple of minutes to blanch. Remove from water and peel off skin. Discard skin and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Roughly chop capsicum and tomatoes, reserving the juices.
  4. Sauté onion in a little olive oil in a medium saucepan until translucent. Add garlic and chilli and stir for 1 minute.
  5. Add capsicum, tomatoes and juices, oregano, salt and pepper to the saucepan. Stir and simmer for at least half an hour, until sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
  6. If not using within a couple of days, place in a sterilised glass jar until needed.

Makes ~ 400mL or nearly 2 cups. Serves 4.

Note: to sterilise a jar, wash in hot soapy water, rinse and dry well. Place in the oven at 120°C for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately fill with sauce.

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