Thursday, January 31, 2008

Weeknight Italian Menu

Spicy Sauteed Broccoli

extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
red pepper flakes to taste
1 lb fresh broccoli, stalks trimmed, peeled, and sliced thin, crowns broken into florets

Heat 2T of evoo in a braising pan or dutch oven. When the oil is just hot enough to sizzle, add the garlic and the pepper flakes, and saute, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli, saute for another 2 minutes, then add 3/4 cup water, bring to lively simmer, then cover the pan and cook another 2 minutes or until cooked to desired doneness. Drain, season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.

Easy Marinara Sauce

extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
3 t dried thyme
1T dried oregano
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine (or substitute drained tomato juice)
2-4T chopped fresh or frozen basil
1T sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 4T evoo over medium heat until hot enough to sizzle. Add onion , sprinkle with a little salt, and saute, stirring now and again, for 8-10 minutes until onions are soft and golden. Add the garlic, oregano and thyme and saute, stirring continuously for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add drained diced tomatoes, increase heat a bit and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-12 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and the wine or tomato juice, bring to simmer, then lower heat and cook another 10-15 minutes. Stir in the basil and sugar off-heat, adjust salt and pepper to taste, and serve over pasta with romano or parmesan cheese.

I serve this meal in two courses, beginning with the broccoli, to maximize veggie consumption. I freeze basil from the farmers' market every summer: I wash it well and then process it with some olive oil and a touch of salt. Lots of herbs can be preserved in this way, and basil especially is a treat in the wintertime. On good-toddler days, we frequently have desert with this, but today was a bad toddler day, and they were all lucky to get anything at all!

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