Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Creamy Tomato Pasta

There are a few lessons I have learned in the kitchen that have helped save a few pennies here and there while still getting something to the table that is tasty and plentiful.  

#1: Always cook with fresh ingredients that are local and in season.  When produce is more pricy it is usually a direct result of shipping costs so just wait until something is available at the local farmers market and you will be able to get a significant amount of food for half the price.
#2 Check the pantry before you head to the store.  I know this seems obvious, but during my recent move I found that I have 4 bottles of Worcestershire sauce, 2 containers of cornstarch, 5 bottles of spicy brown mustard, 3 boxes of brown sugar and more duplicates in the spice cabinet than you can even imagine!  More often than not I have half of the ingredients I need but since I get lazy and don't want to run home before heading to the grocery after work I end up with duplicates and spend money I wouldn't have had to spend. 

There are so many way to cut costs while cooking but these are where I will begin.  

With dinner plans set I realized we needed to come up with a menu.  Since I know my friends and I are all trying to stick to a budget, and someone was going to have to get the wine, I thought I would see what I could find that would fit into these two kitchen rules.  

Being summer here in middle Tennessee the tomatoes are abundant and delicious!  I really don't eat fresh tomatoes during the rest of the year since I am so spoiled with the deliciousness that are fresh, homegrown Bradley Tomatoes.  

Anything I can do to incorporate them into my diet is a high priority for me these days. I came across this recipe on Pinterest and after perusing the ingredient list realized that I had most of what I would need and could get the tomatoes from the local produce tent (aka my happy place) and then pop in the grocery for the other couple ingredients I would need!  

Creamy Tomato Pasta

for the tomato sauce -
2 pounds fresh tomatoes (about 6 medium)
1 small onion, finely diced
1-2 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of salt
3 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
olive oil
for the alfredo sauce -
(if you want to lighten it up, halve the alfredo and keep the tomato sauce the same)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 teaspoons flour
3/4 cup  half & half
1/4 cup skim milk
2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 pound farfalle or other short cut pasta

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.  Start the tomato sauce. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Score the bottom of the tomatoes, blanch in the boiling water for about a minute, cool and peel.  Note: If you have never done this before rest assured that the peels will simply fall of the tomatoes once they have been blanched!
Discard skins. Roughly chop tomatoes and set aside.  In a saucepan, sweat the minced onion and garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium low heat for about 5 minutes, until soft.  

Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic. 

Blend the sauce with an immersion blender. 
Cook about 15 minutes until thickened.  
Add the sugar, salt and wine and let simmer until ready to combine with the alfredo sauce.  
While the tomato sauce thickens, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions (I cooked it for a few minutes less because I like for the pasta to sit in the sauce at the end so I don't want to overcook the pasta).  While the pasta and tomato sauce are cooking, make the alfredo sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. whisk in the flour until smooth and cook about 2 minutes, until brown (it didn't take mine that long so keep an eye on it so you don't burn your roux).  
Whisk in the milk, half & half, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. 
Continuously whisking, bring to a simmer and cook about 2 minutes until thickened. 
Fish out the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard.  Whisk in the parmesan. 

Pour the alfredo sauce in with the tomato sauce.  

Add the basil to the tomato/alfredo sauce.

Using a slotted spoon transfer the pasta to the sauce mixture.  

Stir to make sure all the pasta is well coated.  
Allow the pasta to simmer for a few minutes in the sauce.  
Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese....SCRUMPTIOUS!!!!!!
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