11 April 2010

Pasta with a Fresh Tomato Sauce From Scratch

Tonight, I cooked up angel hair pasta with a fresh tomato sauce made from scratch, inspired by the Chef Scott Conant segment of last week's Anthony Bourdain No Reservations "Techniques" special episode. For my first time ever, I blanched fresh tomatoes, removed their peels, removed the seeds and watery sections. I did Conant's high heat, hot olive oil, generous salt, potato masher technique with the tomato segments. Also, I did the extra virgin olive oil infusion with garlic, fresh basil, and red pepper flakes. I then cooked the pasta and finished it in the sauce, with parmessan cheese, the infused and strained oil, fresh basil bits, and butter. I mistakenly overcooked the pasta, in part because I seldom cook with fresh pasta, but the overall flavors worked out well. But I gotta say, it was a lot of work for only a small improvement in flavor from my usual quick and dirty spaghetti sauce. Perhaps I shouldn't have used ordinary supermarket tomatoes, since a couple were kinda mealy to start with, but my hope was the techniques would bring the best out of ordinary ingredients. 

Anyways, my meatballs turned out great, light and tender. I used ground round beef, plus the usual ingredients for a proper meatloaf (breadcrumbs, dairy, eggs, other seasonings) which I baked separately. I learned from Bourdain's Tuscany episode that proper Italian cuisine never mixes meatballs in with the pasta.