Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rosemary and sage add depth
of flavor to rigatoni sauce

Rigatoni in a homemade tomato sauce – I’ve always thought it sounds so comforting and satisfying, although I’ve never had it myself until recently.
    I came across a recipe for Rigatoni in Tomato Sauce (click for the recipe) in Saveur magazine, and I immediately wanted to try it. Not only did it look easy to make, it called for fresh rosemary and sage, which I thought looked interesting and unusual, and I had plenty of both after clipping off the last from our herb plants before the first frost hit.
    It was delicious. The rosemary and sage, along with red wine, lent a lovely depth of flavor to the sauce. With a side salad, crusty bread and perhaps wine, this pasta dish makes for a very satisfying meal.
    The recipe said it makes six to eight servings, but I disagree. I think it makes three comfortable servings.
    Keep in mind that although the recipe is quite easy to make, it does take about one hour to cook the sauce down until it is reduced, requiring a bit of timing foresight. We found it took about 53 minutes at a heat level 1 for the sauce to reduce.
    The recipe called for canned whole, peeled tomatoes in juice. I was only able to find cans labeled “whole tomatoes,” and so I bought one of those. It seemed to me the tomatoes inside were peeled, so it satisfied the recipe’s requirements.
    Carrots, onion, garlic, and springs of rosemary and sage are cooked in a saucepan, and red wine is added. The mixture is cooked for five minutes, and the tomatoes are added. The sauce is brought to a boil (this takes only about a minute), then the heat is reduced to medium-low and the sauce cooked, being stirred occasionally, for about an hour until reduced.
    The herb stalks are discarded, and the sauce is puréed in a blender.
    Meanwhile, the rigatoni is cooked (the recipe said to do it until al dente, but I boiled it until the tender stage). One cup of the water the rigatoni is boiled in is reserved, and the pasta drained.
    The pasta and sauce are tossed in a bowl, with pasta water being added as needed to create a smooth sauce.
    The rigatoni is served sprinkled with fresh parsley and grated pecorino romano or mozzarella cheese (we used pecorino romano).

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