Thursday, January 5, 2012


The Italian taught me how to make fresh tomato sauce in her tiny condo kitchen in the late 80s. Even as I watched her, I didn't quite believe it. Fresh garlic in olive oil, fresh peeled and chopped tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper. It was so good. So fresh and simple and good. And no recipe.

For a young cook, no recipe was a little problem. It took a long while to throw my cares to the wind and experiment with quantities and trust my nose. The Italian had been cooking for a long time. You could see her connection to food when she chopped and stirred and served. She's the one who first told me that if you eat right you will save on medical bills.

I was thinking of her as I was learning this pepper sauce. I found it in a cook book that said things like one onion, one yellow bell pepper etc. This still bothers me. Put two onions side by side and tell me, how can my sauce be good each time if one time I chop that onion and it turns out to be one cup and the next time I chop that onion and it is one and a half cup? Small, Medium and Large are not helpful measurements. So I set about to make my own recipe.

Sassy Pepper Sauce
(Yields 4 cups sauce)

4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped fresh Roma tomatoes (no need to peel them)
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups chopped onion
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic

Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan. Add the chopped vegetables and cook for about 10 minutes. 

That's it. 10 minutes. The vegetables should be soft, the onion translucent and your feet should lift about two inches off the floor when you inhale it's rich goodness.

Now this is the part I can't help you with. This is the individual taste part. Add salt, pepper and chili powder to your particular taste. Start with a 1/2 teaspoon of each. Stir it in, taste it. Wait a bit. Not right? Add. You can not subtract from a sauce, so take your time.

What to do with this sauce? Add it to a pot of beans. Spoon it over pasta. Just look at it. It is a feast for the eyes. And just before you serve your sassy dish, dash some fresh parsley over the lot for good measure. It's the color wheel trick. Colors across the wheel from each other compliment each other. Just like peppers and tomatoes compliment each other, red and green are friends. 

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