Exploring Puerto Rico

Exploring Puerto Rico
At Cafe Puerto Rico in Old San Juan

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

With Mus back, No Nutty or Fishy! Tortellini with TRADITIONAL HOMEMADE Pasta Sauce

Will try to keep it short tonight. Hubby is back and I would rather spend time with him than sharing my recipes with the rest of the world. Ok, maybe not the rest of the world... :-)
I decided to surprise Mustafa tonight with some of his favorite dishes. For starters, made him "chotpoti" (Bangladeshi famous street food made of chickpeas and potatoes in a spicy sweet tamarind sauce). For dinner, made him chicken massaman, stir fried okra and some rice. I was too tired to take pictures. So I am cheating tonight. I am posting a recipe of a dish I made last week and was too lazy to blog about then.

Cheese Tortellini with Homemade Tomato Sauce

Ok, secret NO. 1: A good pasta dish depends on two things: A) How fresh the pasta is and B) Homemade tomato sauce. None of that Ragu or any other bottled jars you get at the supermarket.

Fresh pasta is not so much a worry here in the US where you can get it at a local Italian place or at your local grocery store. The pasta sauce however, you just have to get down and dirty. The end result is WORTH it! Well, at least to a foodie like moi!

-- 1 onion diced
-- 5-6 garlic cloves minced
-- 1 celery stick diced
-- 1 carrot peeled and diced
-- 4-5 anchovies (from a can) -- this is the secret ingredient!!!!! Trust me!
-- 2 cans of diced tomatoes
-- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
-- 2 small roma tomatoes diced (just to have some fresh tomatoes as well)
-- A litte italian seasoning, salt and freshy cracked pepper, a dash of cumin and red chilli (I do have to get everything a little deshi flavor) and a pinch of sugar.
-- Olive oil

1. In a soup pot with about 3 Tbsp of olive oil, saute onions till translucent and soft and add in the minced garlic and keep sauteeing.
2. Throw in the celery and carrot and keep sauteeing over medium heat. Add in the spices (italian seasoning, a little salt and fresh pepper). Don't oversalt it as you will get a chance to adjust the seasoning at the end. You can choose not to add the red chilli and cumin, but if you are anything like me, you would add it right now for extra flavor and smokiness.
3. Throw in the anchovies and start breaking them up and keep sauteeing over medium heat. I am telling you the anchovies do the trick, just like they do in a good ceasar salad dressing.
4. Add in the tomatoes and paste and let the mixture come to a boil. Add in a pinch of sugar for the flavors to burst. Put the lid on and reduce the heat to low and cook for about 2 hours stirring from time to time. If mixture needs diluting, add in a little water or even better, vegetable broth if you have any handy.
5. Once cooled down, take a big sieve and pass the whole pasta sauce through it. This is the hardest part and takes about 20 min of hand work. But persevere as your sauce will have a very different consistency and will taste um-um gooooood!

Boil any pasta of your liking. I chose a cheese tortellini as it was fresh that day. Boil it according to package instructions. Keep it al-dente as you will add some more cooking time with the pasta sauce.

In a pot, add in the sauce. If you would like, you can add in a Tbsp of sour cream. Add in the pasta and a good cup of shredded fresh parmesan.

You can plate the pasta with some parmesan, a little crushed red chilli and basil leaves on top. And if you are like me, to get a total carb overdose, toast up some baguette and once toasted, sprinkle some olive oil on the bread and rub in a clove of raw garlic for an instant garlic bread. Se I threw in another recipe just like that!

Big hug from me now. It's HUBBY time. Adios!!!

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