This red sauce is smooth, rich, and appropriately spicy towards the finish, perfect for a slightly cool fall day in Los Angeles. I combined the final dish with sausage, grana padano, and al dente linguine. This marinara is versatile and could be utilized as a flavor base or soup.
By Sophia Feliciano
I am one of those weird Angelenos that complains about the weather. Why must it be so darn warm and sunny every single day? I adore and yearn for a good chill on my nose, gusty wind, crisp air, and all that is indicative of Fall. The autumnal season is often kaleidoscopic in color and tends to kindle a sense of gaiety from the ground up in particular locales. Alas, I’ve learned to accept that I will never see a true Autumn in Southern California. However this year, instead of grumbling about the lackluster and hardly noticeable changes in nature and climate, I welcomed October with a simple yet charming old world feast amongst friends. I went a bit crazy at the farmer’s market and purchased almost fifty tomatoes (I’m terrible at estimating) in order to conjure up a huge pot of fresh marinara or red sauce as the North Easterners might say. I knew that a freshly brewed pot of rustic red sauce would warm the bellies and hearts of my friends with the addition of a little vino. There’s something romantic about twirling fresh pasta in the simmered juices of plump, ripened tomatoes.
Recently I learned of the Italian Spaghettata di Mezzanotte which translates to midnight spaghetti. It’s a sort of pasta centric after party after a night on the town. While I love this notion, I know I could never begin a party at this hour. Not one of my friends would come; I on the other hand consider myself an old lady who needs her beauty sleep. Thus, my intimate dinner was dubbed ‘Autumn Spaghettata’ sans the Mezzanotte.
On the day of red sauce preparation, I was unexpectedly given a tin of fresh olive oil which proved sprightly and exquisite from a man who owns a private grove in Tuscany. I mused that in paying homage to my beloved season, the gifted olive oil was a token, the Fall harvest incarnate.
This red sauce is smooth, rich, and appropriately spicy towards the finish. I combined my final dish with Italian sausage, grana padano, and al dente linguine. This marinara is versatile and could be utilized as a flavor base or soup. One can also add some heavy cream for more of a vodka sauce consistency. I plan to use some of the remaining sauce to braise beef (think Italian braciole) or perhaps I will poach some eggs in the marinara as in the way of the Middle Eastern shashouska.
- 10 Beefsteak tomatoes
- 15 Plum tomatoes
- 9 cloves of garlic
- 3 carrots (zested)
- 2 sweet onions (diced)
- 3 heaping tablespoons of fresh sage
- 3 heaping tablespoons of basil
- 1 tablespoon of chili flakes
- ½ of a lemon (zested)
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- ¼ cup of red wine
- 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
- Fill a stock pot half way with water and bring to boil.
- Cross hatch the bottom of each tomato with a knife to make for easy peeling once tomatoes are blanched.
- Blanch the tomatoes in batches, according to how many fit in the pot. You may need to add more water after a few batches (bringing to boil.)
- When the skin begins to peel and crinkle, set the tomatoes down in a bowl or on a baking sheet.
- When all of the tomatoes are done, peel the skins off and chop off the ends.
- Dice the tomatoes and make sure to avoid the core.
- Heat olive oil in a stock pan over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add onions, garlic, carrots, sage, and basil. Let this cook over medium heat while occasionally stirring for about ten minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Then add lemon zest, chili flakes, salt, and stir.
- Add in chopped tomatoes and wine.
- Turn up the temperature to high heat and stir for 5 minutes.
- Cover stock pot with a lid and reduce temperature to low as the marinara simmers for two and a half hours.
- At this point, you can leave the marinara hearty with hunks of tomatoes or blend half of the mixture with an emulsifier or blender. You can also blend the whole batch. I personally prefer half smooth and the other half to possess texture.
- It's nice to cook the red sauce early and then let it sit and rest for a while. I actually believe this pot of sauce tastes markedly better the next day as it's had a chance to thicken and absorb all of the flavors.
- This is the perfect dish to prepare and freeze!