Easy Marinara Sauce

 1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can of ground peeled tomatoes (Pastene brand is the best)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup red wine
Olive oil

 In a large sauce pan, sauté onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil, until translucent.  Add tomatoes, garlic, wine, salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes on medium low heat. 

 Tips: you may add fresh or dried basil. Dried herbs are stronger than fresh so if you prefer to use dried, use less.  For example, if you use 3 fresh basil leaves, use about 1 teaspoon of dried.

 You can also double or even triple this batch (two or three cans of tomatoes, another couple of garlic cloves, etc) and pour into some freezer-safe containers for later use. 

 Basic White Cream Sauce

 1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
2 cups of milk
Cheese (see below for details)

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter.  Once butter is completely melted, add in the flour.  Whisk together for about 2 minutes until combined.  Then add the milk and drop heat down to medium low.  Continue to whisk until sauce begins to thicken.  This will happen when sauce comes to a small boil.  At this point, you can add your cheese.  If making a cheese sauce for baked macaroni and cheese, you would use any kind of shredded cheese you like.  For an “Alfredo” sauce, you would use a cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.  You could even use pepper jack or a Mexican blend for chili mac or any food of that type.

 Tip: Butter and flour cooked together this way create a roux which acts as a thickening agent for the milk.

 Garlic and Olive Oil

Once pasta is done cooking, add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 4 or 5 cloves of minced garlic, freshly ground black pepper, and some grated cheese.  Toss and serve.  You can also add some crushed red pepper if you like heat.  I also like to finish this off with some chopped fresh parsley.

 Tip: if you prefer more of a subtle garlic flavor, sauté the garlic in the olive oil first, on low heat for about 5 minutes, then toss with the pasta.   Please see my Misc Tips section of the Kitchen Tips post for the proper way to cook garlic!

Presto Basil Pesto

If you don’t want to spend the extra time using a food processor (or if you don’t own one) to make traditional pesto sauce then this pesto recipe is the way to go.

1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 cup pine nuts
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt/fresh ground black pepper

In a skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat.  Add garlic and sauté for about 2 min then remove from heat.  In a small sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over medium low heat until golden, about 3 minutes.  Do not leave unattended as the oils in the nuts will cause them to burn.  Add the garlic/olive oil and pine nuts to your cooked pasta.  Then toss in the fresh basil, parm cheese, salt/black pepper.  Serve.