Tomato (pomodoro, in Italian) sauce is great by itself especially to toss pasta with. It’s rustic and comforting, and visually stimulating to boot. But plain tomato sauce can be even better — tastier with layers of flavor that blend so seamlessly that you can’t tell where the first one ends and the next one starts.
How to do that? You start with tomato sauce, homemade preferably. You add pesto and concentrated meat broth, and you let them all simmer together until really thick.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup tomatoes chopped
- 1/2 cup onions chopped
- 1 cup bell peppers chopped
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 3 to 4 tablespoons pesto (see recipe and variation)
- 2 cup tomato sauce preferably homemade
- 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups meat broth concentrate (see notes after the recipe)
- 1 to 2 cups eggplants cubed
- cooked spaghetti
Heat the butter. Saute the chopped tomatoes, onions and bell peppers, with a bit of salt and pepper, until softened.
Stir in the pesto. Pour in the tomato sauce and the meat broth. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until reduced by half. Don’t forget to stir and taste occasionally, and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
Add the eggplant cubes to the sauce. Stir. Add more salt and pepper because the eggplant will soak up the salt in the sauce.
Cover and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes until the eggplant cubes are done.
Toss with cooked pasta and enjoy!
The meaty version
The first line in the instructions section of the recipe above says, “Heat the butter. Saute the chopped tomatoes, onions and bell peppers, with a bit of salt and pepper, until softened.” The softening process takes several minutes. So, as soon as the chopped vegetables were in the pan, I took another pan where I started browning ground meat.
I seasoned the meat very well — in fact, I added spices and seasonings to mimic the taste of sausage meat.
When the sauce was done, I scooped out enough for Sam’s vegetarian pasta. To the remaining sauce in the pan, I added the browned meat.
It is important to simmer the sauce a bit longer using this technique to make sure that the flavors of the meat and sauce blend together. Over low heat, five to seven minutes should be enough.
So, there. Another occasion when I successfully pulled off two dishes, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, for the various preferences of everyone in my family. Like I said, it’s not hard but it does take better organization and impeccable timing to get everything on the table at the same time.