Making your own pasta sauce recipe is an easy, healthy and cost-effective way to get dinner done. When you learn some basic procedures, it becomes simple to make a variety of sauces to suit almost any pasta. And since you are controlling the ingredients, you know exactly how this sauce ranks on the healthy scale. A great added bonus to going homemade is that making your own sauce will even save you money over buying the jarred variety. Really – there is no reason making homemade sauces shouldn’t become a part of your cooking toolkit – a skill you’ll be able to use almost every day. Let’s review the procedures of three of the most popular and common sauces you’ll encounter when making pasta.
Become a Master of the Marinara Sauce Recipe
A marinara sauce recipe starts (as all sauces start) from one of the five “Mother Sauces” of French culinary – in this case, tomato sauce. Tomato sauce is tomato conasse – a fancy way of saying coarsely chopped, de-skinned and de-seeded tomatoes – combined with a “base” (meat, vegetables, fish). So, let’s start with tomato concasse. The best way to remove skin from tomatoes is through blanching.
Here is the simple process for blanching a tomato:
Using fresh tomatoes, mark an “x” on one end and core the other end.
The tomatoes go into a pot of boiling water – not for them to cook, but for the skin to cook and peel off. You will see this start to happen at the “x” mark.
When the skin peels off that “x” mark, this is your indicator that the tomato is done cooking. This will vary by tomato due to size and ripeness.
Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and “shock” them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking.
At this point, it should be very easy to peel away the skin and remove the seeds. If it’s not, the tomatoes have not boiled enough.
Coarsely chop and you’ve got tomato concasse.
The second step of this process to making a marinara sauce recipe uses the saute method:
Heat a small saute pan on the stove to hot.
Add a small amount of olive oil and coat pan.
Combine your tomato concasse with some vegetable broth and reduce until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Add some canned tomato paste to thicken and other seasonings of your choice, such as basil and oregano.
Heat your marinara sauce recipe through and serve over your favorite pasta.
By following this procedure, you can easily have a homemade pasta dinner in under an hour – any night of the week!
Make any White Sauce Recipe with One Procedure
When you think of a white sauce recipe, most often what you are imagining has its roots in the French mother sauce, bechamel. Bechamel forms the foundation for every white sauce recipe – including the favorite fetuccine Alfredo or even the classic macaroni and cheese. The key to making this velvety white sauce smooth is knowing how much milk to add. This is something that is best determined with your eyes – not a recipe!
You start by melting butter on the stove and then removing it from the heat. As you add some flour – a little at a time – you will be watching for the mixture to thicken up to the consistency of wall paper paste. When it does, you’ve got roux and it is time to return to the heat. Your goal here is to cook the proteins out of the flour. You will know this has happened when the majority of the roux has turned from yellow to white. During the process, you will smell a toasty smell as the proteins cook out. Now you can start adding milk. This is the most important step in making this sauce so take your time here. You will continue to add milk – a little at a time – until the sauce stops thickening. So here’s the process:
Add some milk and stir.
Stop stirring and observe.
If sauce starts thickening back up over the heat, add more milk.
Continue steps 1-3 until the sauce doesn’t thicken back up (in step 3).
I like a garlic flavor to my white sauce recipe so here’s a trick for adding garlic, but not adding the lumps of chopped garlic. I simmer whole garlic cloves in the sauce for a bit and then remove them before serving. This will infuse a nice garlic flavor into my white sauce recipe. Finally, if you are making an Alfredo (or macaroni and cheese), this is where you would add your favorite cheese(s), stirring over heat as they melt.
A Buttery Garlic Sauce Recipe in Less then 30 Minutes
I saved my favorite garlic sauce recipe for last for a couple of reasons. First, it is a great sauce because you can make it rather quickly, using ingredients you most likely have on hand. However, this homemade pasta sauce recipe can be a little bit trickier than the first two, which makes some shy away from it. But, don’t worry. With a few tips, you’ll be making this one like a pro tonight!
Again, we start with one of the French culinary mother sauces – this time: beurre blanc, a saute of shallot (with garlic) and any liquid mounted with cold butter. The trick to this sauce is to always keep the butter yellow. If your butter stays yellow, it means that the sauce has not broken. Here is my best tip for keeping the butter yellow in your garlic sauce recipe. This is one time, we don’t start with a hot pan (as we normally would in saute method). The cold pan and cold butter hit the heat together. To melt the butter, without burning it:
Melt a little bit of butter.
Remove from hit and swirl around to melt more butter.
Return to heat for a couple of seconds to get the butter hot again.
Remove from heat and swirl around to melt more butter.
Repeat steps 1-3 until all the butter is melted.
When the butter is melted, you add your shallot and garlic and saute, but you don’t want to brown anything here. Controlling the heat (so as not to separate the butter) is the most important secret for success when making this sauce. Keep the butter yellow – can’t stress that enough! Once the shallots and garlic have cooked to become translucent in color, add a cold liquid (usually white wine) and then cold butter, cut in consistent squares. If the pan starts to get too hot (as evidenced by white specs floating to the top of the butter), you will remove it from heat and add more cold butter to cool the sauce quickly. You can always heat it back up again when you cool it – but you can’t fix it once it has actually broken. When you are satisfied with the consistency and flavor of the garlic sauce recipe you’ve created, add salt and white pepper to taste and serve on your favorite pasta.
With a little practice, you will become very good at whipping up a great pasta sauce recipe every night based on what you have on hand in your house. For everyday cooking, a great sauce paired with pasta makes for a great and complete meal. With these techniques and your creativity, there is no stopping the great cook in you from emerging!