I spent a lot of time yesterday “leaf herding” and doing those other activities that are supposed to prepare the homestead for the upcoming winter but is anyone ever really prepared for the upcoming winter? I know that I am not. The time got so late I wore out and did not do a post yesterday so there are two recipes for today. The picture is of the hazelnut-rosemary encrusted tilapia mainly because I did not think that anyone would just want to see a pot of sauce.
First up, is the sauce recipe and I will have to write quickly because there is an angry mob of Italian grandmothers armed with giant soup spoons and a hanging rope made of old pasta trying to hunt me down. They keep chanting “get the blasphemer, get the blasphemer!” I believe I could probably outrun them but you never know these days with souped up electric scooters and the like. This is the 20 to 30 minute pasta sauce and a great alternative to the jarred sauces because you do get the fresh taste and not the oversalted garlic powder heavy taste of some sauces. The key to being able to have a quick sauce is to have your ingredients in a state that will allow them to incorporate (get intimate) in a very short period of time, kind of like speed dating. This is the reason that dried powdered oregano is used and the onions and garlic are very finely diced. You are probably going to ask why not use dried basil and parsley and I would answer that the fresh give off more flavor in a shorter period of time than the dried ingredients. Without further delay here is the recipe.
It’s A Quickie (fast pasta sauce)
Gary Bechard – The Well Fed Cyclist
2 – 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen organic)
1 – 15 ounce can of tomato sauce, No Salt Added (I used Muir Glen organic)
4 – Very thin slices of medium sweet onion very finely diced
7 to 10 – Fresh basil leaves, thin sliced (chiffonade)
1 handful (about 3/4ths cup) – Fresh Parsley leaves, finely chopped
6 – Cloves garlic, finely chopped
A couple of good turns around the bottom of the pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp – Coarse ground black pepper
1 ½ tbsp – Lemon peel (grated)
Note: You can substitute the zest of a lemon
1 ½ tsp – Dried, powdered oregano leaves
1 tsp – Thyme leaves
A brief note before the construction instructions: I normally chop my vegetables ahead of time because it makes for easier cooking and cleaning. You may also notice that there is no salt listed in the ingredients and that is because 2 of the cans of tomatoes already have that in them. I am a big proponent of “taste as you go” and adjust to how you like it so do whatever floats your boat.
In a 3 to 4 quart pot, do a few good turns around the bottom of the pot with some extra virgin olive oil. Turn the heat to mid range and bring the oil up to temperature remembering that olive oil has a low smoke point and does not withstand high heat very well without breaking down. When the oil is hot, add garlic and onions and sauté until the onions are translucent (kind of clear) and without turning the garlic brown. This process should take about 1 to 3 minutes because of the very fine chop you have on the garlic and onions. After the onions have released their water (sweating them to the oldies you could say), add the tomato sauces and stir mixture until it is fully pulled together. Next add your soft ingredients, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme leaves, and the black pepper and lemon zest and continue to stir. (Note: This is not a 4 to 5 hour sauce so you have to keep the sauce moving. You do not want the mixture to have uneven temperature.) Allow these ingredients to become intimate (cover the children’s eyes if you have to). Simmer until you start to see the parsley and the basil start to break down and become wilted (this will be around 10 minutes). Also, small bubbles will appear in the tomato sauce and once you see them reduce the heat to around 3 and continue to simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. If you see that the sauce is becoming thicker than you would like you can add either some chicken or vegetable stock or red wine (my favorite) to thin it out. NEVER use water to thin because that destroys the integrity of the sauce. After the cooking time is done, I normally allow the sauce to “rest” by turning off the heat and letting sit partially covered on the stove.
This is the second recipe and it is kind of a shorty but very, very tasty. I was eating some Marcona almonds with rosemary the other day and thought to myself, these would be really good as a coating for chicken or fish. I carried the idea around in my head for several weeks playing around with the idea of tossing the rest of the bag into the food processor but I ended up eating them all and I finally decided to do something with the idea last night. I did not go the almond route because I thought that hazelnuts would have a better flavor profile and would still play nice with the rosemary and thyme. I did the tilapia in a large cast iron skillet in canola oil but I believe that you could do the egg wash thing, coat them and bake them on a cookie sheet just as well. I will be trying that with chicken here in the near future.
Nuts to You
(A coating for fish or chicken)
The Well Fed Cyclist – Gary Bechard
2 cups – ground hazelnut flour
2 tbsp – rosemary leaves
1tbs – thyme leaves
1 tsp – Kosher salt
Thoroughly mix this in a bowl until all ingredients are evenly blended.
I did an eggwash of the tilapia, rolled the fillets in the mixture and gently put them in the cast iron skillet. It took about 3 to 4 minutes a side until the fillet started to flake.
The Well Fed Cyclist