This one is all about the sauce. It’s so good. I was actually going to prepare a completely different recipe (wait until next week for that), but as it got later into the night, I decided to take the easy route out. Not that the dish was any less tasty; it was just faster to put together. Good thing I know my sauces. For this dish, I used my classic pasta sauce recipe and added a few things to it. It was awesome. I do love my pasta and sauce.
If you check out my previous sauce recipe, I think you’ll see two things. First, you’ll see some of my better photography on this website. I remember taking those photos like it was yesterday. I had a bunch of cooking items spread out across our dining room table and there was tons of natural light streaming through our front window. When it comes to food photography, natural light is so great. Anyway, the photos in that post are some of my favorites. They look like they could be in a magazine. Perhaps one day I’ll find a magazine that wants them.
The second thing you’ll find is a recipe that’s simple, yet robust. It offers instructions for preparing a very good tasting pasta sauce that’s so easy to put together. For the uninitiated, a good sauce requires only a few ingredients. You’ve got the tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and yes, sugar and olive oil. Many people don’t know the importance of those last two ingredients. The sugar adds some very pleasant sweetness and the olive oil adds a nice texture and cuts any bitterness from the tomatoes. I love the olive oil part.
For today’s recipe, I used this sauce and added some mushrooms to it as well as fresh basil leaves. You can always go with the dried basil if it’s the middle of winter and fresh basil is costing way too much, but during the summer, fresh is so inexpensive at the grocery store and, for us, is so plentiful in the garden, it’s a shame not to take advantage of the good stuff.
1 Large Can (28 Ounces) Diced Tomatoes
1 Large Sweet Onion, Chopped
12 Ounces Mushrooms, Quartered
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Teaspoon + 1 Tablespoon Salt, Divided
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 Garlic Cloves (Crushed)
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Divided
3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Pound Penne Pasta
I suppose I have myself to thank for this recipe, since I’m the one who made it up. Although, I will confess that I’ve seen something like it floating around on the internet and in cookbooks for the past 20 years, so I can’t take too much credit.
Prepare the Sauce
Warm a saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter to it as well as the onion and mushrooms. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes until both of these ingredients have softened and have begun to brown. As a quick note, the longer you let both the onion and mushroom brown, the more flavors you’ll get from them, so brown to your heart’s content. About two minutes before you decide to stop browning the onion and mushrooms, add in the garlic. Stir and cook that for the two minutes.
Next, add in the tomatoes, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, oregano, sugar, basil and pepper. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes. When finished, uncover the pot and continue simmering for about three minutes. Add in the remaining one tablespoon olive oil and stir.
Cook the Pasta
Fill a large pot about half way with water and add one tablespoon salt to it. Then, bring the water to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, add the pasta to it and cook until al dente. This should take between 10 and 11 minutes, if history is any indication. When finished, strain in a colander and then toss back in the pot. Stir in two tablespoons olive oil until the pasta is coated.
Serve & Enjoy
Divide the pasta between bowls and then add some sauce to each serving. If you want, you can drizzle some extra olive oil over each serving as well. There’s nothing wrong with more olive oil. Serve and enjoy!