Showing posts with label tomato sauce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tomato sauce. Show all posts

Friday, July 10, 2015

Linguine with Tomato-Shrimp Sauce

by Sheila Connolly

And the other cookbook I bought in Northampton was (drumroll) Beard on Pasta! Published in 1983, it’s a companion to Beard on Bread (1974), which I’ve owned since before I was married. I’m not sure I’ve ever baked any of the recipes, but Beard is a good storyteller so it’s fun reading. (Confession: I also own a copy of The Tassajara Bread Book, which is even older, not that I've used it much, but back in the day you had to have a copy.) Obviously I’ve been collecting cookbooks for a long time!

Beard goes through the whole “make your own pasta” thing at the beginning of the book. Yes, I own a hand-cranked pasta machine. I’ve even used it, now and then. Not much lately.

But to get to the recipe (at last! you say). This one caught my eye because it’s quick and simple and tasty.

Linguine with Tomato-Shrimp Sauce
Adapted from Beard on Pasta, by James Beard

28 ounces (2 cans) canned whole or chopped tomatoes in puree
olive oil
2 small onions (or one large), sliced
salt and pepper to taste
dried basil or oregano (optional; I had fresh oregano—from my herb pot!—so that’s what I used)
1/2 pound peeled raw shrimp
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tblsp Italian parsley, chopped
2 Tblsp olive oil
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound linguine

In a large pot, cook the sliced onions in a little olive oil over medium heat until they are just soft. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and herbs and continue cooking over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

If you like a smooth sauce, you can run the sauce through a food processor, or use an immersion blender. (I bought my Cuisinart immersion blender at a neighbor’s yard sale for three dollars. It’s come in handy.)

Taste for seasoning. When the sauce is finished, add the other ingredients and simmer until the shrimp turn pink (not too long).

Cook the linguine according to the package instructions. Drain, place in individual bowls, and spoon the sauce over it.

You can use frozen shrimp, or smaller shrimp, or scallops, or seafood chunks—the possibilities are endless. It’s still quick and easy.

This recipe easily serves four (we’ve got leftovers!).

When Nell Pratt isn't digging into murders (I know, a bad pun!), she gets to visit a lot of Philadelphia restaurants--which of course means that I have to investigate them thoroughly. Oh, the life of a writer is hard!

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble 
(and a lot of other bookstores, I hope!)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to Make Meatless Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes: A post for my Dad (Tony Alfonsi) by Cleo Coyle

I swear this 2-hour meatless sauce will fool anyone into thinking it was simmered for 6-hours with meat. The rich depth of flavor is amazing and well worth a Saturday afternoon making it the way the "old timers" did. Even if you make it only once in your cooking life, the experience is one you'll never forget.

For those of you who've made pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes, you know the very smell of the sauce cooking is like nothing else on earth. With all my heart, I wanted to experience that little piece of heaven again to bring back some very sweet memories of my father, Antonio "Tony" Alfonsi.

Dad went into the hospital a week after Father’s Day and never came out again. He passed away on June 27 and we laid him to rest July 3rd at the age of 83. 

Dad was born a poor boy, the son of an Italian mounted police officer and his wife who emigrated here from Italy. But Dad didn't need money to lead a rich life with plenty of family and friends who loved him. 

He was a tough guy with a tender heart who served in the Army Air Corps then worked for years in a Pittsburgh area steel mill...
My Pop, Tony, with his mother Grazia.
(You can see the steel mills in the background.) 

My Father and Mother,
Antonio and Rose Alfonsi

For over 30 years, Tony was a faithful husband to my late mom, Rose. He raised two daughters with her: one a medical doctor (and assistant professor), Grace; and the other a journalist and New York Times bestselling author (yes, me, Alice, aka Cleo). 

As one of his nurses said to him in the last few months of his life, "You did good." I think so, too, and count myself very lucky to have been his daughter.

My sister, Dr. Grace Alfonsi, during her
time serving as Community Health Director
in Bethel, Alaska. 

During the Depression, my father's father kept his large family fed by working a small farm from which they sold produce. Every spring, my dad helped plant 2,000 tomato plants for his family, so he had no problem tending the 100 or so tomato plants he sowed for our own little family every summer.

Fresh pasta sauce was part of that yield, which is why I'm dedicating this post to my father. My husband and I also dedicated one of our Haunted Bookshop Mysteries to him, as well as our 13th Coffeehouse Mystery, Billionaire Blend, the book we were writing when he passed away. 

Finally, I'd love to tell you how the Chianti in this picture got into this recipe, but that’s another story (thank you, Maria)! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the recipe. May you cook it with love and make lifelong memories of your own...

Eat with (everlasting) joy,

Alice Alfonsi,
who writes The Coffeehouse Mysteries
as Cleo Coyle with her husband Marc Cerasini

8 pounds (about 23) peeled and de-seeded
fresh tomatoes will cook down to about 1 quart (4 cups),

which is what I use in the sauce recipe below...

Cleo Coyle's
Meatless Italian Spaghetti Sauce 
from Fresh Tomatoes for my Father...

To download this recipe
in an illustrated PDF
 document that you can print,
save, or share, click here.

What kind of tomatoes should you use for this recipe? While Roma (aka Italian plum) tomatoes are traditionally used for sauce, you can use any kind for this recipe. Whether you grow your own, pass a farm stand with big baskets for sale, or simply see a summer sale at your grocery, you can make this sauce out of any tomatoes you find or even mix the varieties--as long as they're ripe, you will eat with joy! 

~ Cleo (Alice)

Makes about 1-1/2 to 2 quarts
(depending on your thickness preference)


8 pounds ripe garden tomatoes

   (about 20 to 25 tomatoes)
5 celery ribs
2 carrots
1 large white onion
1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves (curly or flat-leaf)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried basil (or 3 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade.)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of your favorite red wine (I’m using Chianti this go-round)

1-4 cups vegetable stock (in a pinch, simply use water)

Step 1- Prep the fresh tomato base: The taste of fresh summer tomatoes in this sauce is truly amazing, but you must first properly prepare the tomatoes. The process of peeling, de-seeding, and pulping those little round orbs may sound difficult, but it’s very easy—and once learned, the techniques can be used in a lifetime of cooking. See my instructions at the end of this recipe.

Step 2 - Prep the veggie aromatics: Roughly chop the celery, carrots, parsley, and onion. Add them to a food processor with the olive oil and pulse until very finely chopped—but do not puree or liquefy.

Step 3 - Add the spices and ignite: Add this veggie mix to a large pot with the spices (garlic powder, fresh or dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper) and sauté (while stirring) over medium heat for about 10 minutes to release the flavors. Be sure to stir to keep the mixture from burning.

Step 4 - Add tomato pulp, wine and simmer: Add the quart of tomatoes that you have peeled, de-seeded, and cooked down into pulp (see instructions at end). Pour in the wine and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every so often to prevent scorching. After 1 hour, the mixture will have thickened into a beautifully condensed and very flavorful sauce. Now all you need to do is thin it out a bit...

Step 5 - Finish with stock (or water): To thin out this very thick sauce, stir in 1 to 4 cups of vegetable stock (or water). Continue cooking and stirring for another 20 to 30 minutes. If you like, use an immersion blender to smooth out any remaining chunks before serving. (We do!)

Depending on your own taste, continue adding more stock (or water) and/or cooking down until you get the consistency (thinness or thickness) that you prefer. 

Storing: This sauce will stay fresh about 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

How to Prep Fresh Tomatoes for Sauce 

Peeling and de-seeding tomatoes will remove bitterness and unwanted textures from your sauce. Because this step brings your sauce to a higher level of taste, it’s truly worth it—and it’s very easy to do. To watch a chef from the Culinary Institute of America perform this very easy process, click the arrow in the window below and watch the YouTube video.



1 - Peel your tomatoes: Remove stems and shallowly core as shown in my photo. Slice a small X at the bottom of each tomato. 

Place a few tomatoes at a time into a pot of simmering (or boiling) water. After 15 to 30 seconds (no more) remove immediately and drop in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. 

Using your fingers, gently peel the skin off the tomatoes. (You can save the skins to make a delicious condiment "sun-dried tomato flakes," click here for that recipe.) If you have any trouble with peeling a tomato, simply place it back in the boiling water for another 15 seconds and repeat the process. 

2 – De-seed your tomatoes: Cut the tomatoes in half--make sure you cut it as shown, crosswise, along its equator. Using a small spoon, gently dig out the seeds and discard. (You will not get every single seed out, and that's okay, just get as many as you can and you'll improve the sauce flavor.)

3 – Pulp your tomatoes: Place a large pot on the stove. Using a clean hand, roughly crush each peeled and seeded tomato over the pot and toss inside. Cook down the tomatoes over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent scorching. Continue mashing the tomatoes with a large spoon as they cook

Cook until the excess water has evaporated and you are left with tomato pulp. 8 pounds of tomatoes will give you about 4 cups (1 quart) of tomato pulp. 

While the tomatoes are cooking down, begin the Meatless Spaghetti Sauce recipe, starting with Step 2, and when you're finished, be sure with joy!

A daughter may outgrow your lap,
but she will never outgrow your heart.
I love you, Dad. Rest now and
I will see you again...

~ Alice Alfonsi
(Cleo Coyle)

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me now, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tomato Cream Sauce

by Sheila Connolly

This past week I wended my way through some local farmers markets in the western part of Massachusetts, and confirmed the fact that I love pretty colors.  I have a tendency to buy vegetables that aren't the color they're supposed to be (as you will see below).  A couple of years ago this led to an orgy of eggplants, where I tried everything from pure white through lavender to the standard purple, with a few stripes throw in the middle. (For the record, when I was a child I dyed applesauce blue and ate it.) This year I was playing with peppers and carrots and tomatoes.

The heirloom tomatoes were too pretty to pass up, but then I was faced with doing something with them while they were fresh.  So I turned to one of my family's favorite tomato sauce recipes.

I want to say it's a simple sauce, but not quite.  It is simple in flavor and cooking.  But to be honest, it does require a bit of chopping up front, and then puréeing at the end.  You have choices:  one, you can chop up your tomatoes, cook, then run through a food mill; or two, you can peel your tomatoes, cook, and stick the sauce into a food processor and whirl away.  It's up to you, depending on where you want to put your effort.

In terms of the actual cooking, that is simple too—but not short.  But you can use that in your favor.  Assemble the ingredients in a pan, set the heat as low as possible, then walk away for an hour, stirring as the spirit moves you.  Come back and mill/puree, etc. at the end.

Anyway, it's a flavorful way to highlight your tomatoes, and it's a nice change from a traditional tomato sauce for pasta or, in this case, gnocchi, with a lovely color and texture.

Tomato Cream Sauce
½ stick salted butter
3 Tblsp finely chopped yellow onion
3 Tblsp finely chopped carrot
2 ½ cups tomatoes, chopped (you can use canned or fresh; if you use fresh, you may need to add a little extra liquid, depending on how juicy the tomatoes are)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar
½ cup heavy cream

Put everything except the cream into a saucepan and cook at a bare simmer for an hour, uncovered.  Stir with a wooden spoon occasionally.

 Purée the contents of the pan through a food mill (or if the tomatoes are skinless, in a food processor or blender).  Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring.  Add the heavy cream and heat through.  Taste and correct for salt.  Serve immediately, over hot pasta or gnocchi.

BTW, packaged gnocchi are great to keep on hand--they cook in no time at all, and the go well with almost any sauce.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cecina Flatbread - made with Garbanzos & Gluten-free

This is grilled salmon covered with the tomato sauce/cecina on the side.
This flatbread was recommended to me by a waiter who knew I needed to eat gluten-free. He said back in Italy (the Tuscany region), where he was raised, this is the bread they served to anyone who had a wheat allergy. {If you didn't know, Italy has been way ahead of the US in discovering gluten allergies. From what I’ve heard, all children are tested by the age of two.}

The flatbread is called cecina (garbanzo is ceci in Italian) and it works as an appetizer or snack. Just like bread, it is best eaten right when it comes out of the oven. I read on the Internet (from someone else who read it somewhere..don't you love the Internet?) that cecina was "invented" by accident when a ship carrying garbanzo flour was caught in a storm. The flour got wet but the crew, not wanting to throw it away, added oil and baked it. I believe it, don’t you?  J  Hey, cheese was discovered when goat milk was transported across the desert. The milk, stowed in sacks that were loaded onto camels, rocked to and fro and churned itself.
Make sure to bake the cecina in a hot oven until it has a golden crust. Since baking times will vary depending on your oven, check on it often!  {I also will suggest that once it's done, if you want it crispier, cut into slices, remove the pieces from the baking pan, put on a new (non-oiled) pan and bake longer to "dry" them out. It's delish! Promise.  (And full of protein)


Serves: 4

2 cups garbanzo flour
2 cups water
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly-ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix the garbanzo flour and add the water with a whisk. Stir well, making sure you don't have any lumps. Add the salt. The mixture should be silky smooth.

Cover and let the mixture stand for an hour (or longer…overnight is okay). Remove any foam that has formed at the top. Stir again.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Pour oil into a 15 x 10 x 1 jellyroll style pan. (It should cover the bottom.)

Add the garbanzo mixture. It should be low -- no higher than ¼ inch high...sort of floating on top of the oil.

Bake in the hot oven until the cecina has a golden crust all over, about 30 minutes.

Grind lots of fresh black pepper on top of the cecina as soon as it comes out of the oven. Cut into slices and serve warm.

I served this with my:

Homemade Tomato Oregano Sauce


10 Roma tomatoes (peeled, seeded, diced) (about 3 cups)
½ yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
10 grinds of a pepper mill
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
¼ cup olive oil


Chop and dice tomatoes (see below for removing peel). Chop and dice onions. Put all the ingredients in a 10” saucepan. Heat to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.

**Peeling tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to boil.  Put the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 20-30 seconds. Remove with tongs and douse with cold water. The peel should remove easily with a serrated knife.  Once peeled, cut in half, remove the seeds, then chop fine for the sauce.

* * * * *

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