I call this dish "First Date Pasta Sauce" because it brings back great memories. It was the first thing I cooked for my fiance Darren when we started dating. It only took another 2 years for him to finally pop the question! Of course he still loves it when I cook (although I think he would prefer I make scalloped potatoes every night). The full recipe is at the bottom of this post...
It's fall and there's nothing better after a cool day than sitting down to a hearty meal with lots of vegetables. I love the flavors of this sauce; the acid from the tomatoes and the crisp of squash with the bite from the pepper and onion. Basil and oregano are the main spice notes in this dish.
First off, I prep my veggies. Chop the herbs pretty finely. Dice the pepper and onion into small pieces (Hint from mom: if onions make you cry, place an unlit match in your mouth, the sulfur wafting under your face keeps the onion from burning your eyes). Chop the tomatoes and squash into bite sized chunks. I use a lot of minced garlic out of the jar, but you can mince your own.
Next, put a stock pot on medium high heat on the stove. Heat the oil and simmer your minced garlic until browned, about a minute.
Time for your aromatics and vegetables. Dump in your pepper, onion, squash, and half of your basil and oregano. Add the wine. Bring it to a simmer and reduce your heat to low/medium. Cover the dish and let it simmer until the squash is slightly tender, about 15 minutes.
Mix in your tomatoes. Add some sea salt and ground pepper to taste and let it simmer, still covered, for another 15 minutes. This will give it time to extract the juices from the tomatoes so they will soak into the squash.
Once it's good and juicy add a small can of tomato paste. This will give the watery stew more of a "saucy" texture. Add the rest of your herbs and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. Stir it in and let it simmer for about 40 minutes to let all the flavors to soak in. It's just that easy!
I like to serve my sauce over thin whole grain spaghetti with turkey sausage and herb salad with homemade balsamic dressing. We also enjoyed a great white wine from Darren's aunt and uncle in Kansas. Thanks Roger and Phyllis!!
--First Date Pasta Sauce--
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 small zuchinni, chopped
2 small yellow squash, chopped
1/2 of a large yellow vidalia onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/3 c oregano, finely chopped
1/3 c basil, finely chopped
1/3 c red primivito wine (Italian)
6 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
1-6 oz can tomato paste
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Heat stock pot on medium-high heat. Pour in oil and heat. Add garlic, simmer for 1 minute, until the garlic is browned. Add the bell pepper, onion, zuchinni, yellow squash, half of the basil and oregano, and pour in the wine. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low-medium. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until squash is slightly tender. Add the tomatoes and simmer 15 minutes, until juice is extracted and mixture is soupy. Fold in tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 40 minutes more. Check for taste, season as needed. Serve over pasta, on sandwiches, or as a hearty side. Wait for Darren to show up hungry :)