Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
One of my favorite things to do is to cook or bake something on Sunday that involves a lot of steps, a bunch of time and a dollop of love. Sometimes I will bake a few batches of muffins or cook a plentiful meal for 2, which usually results in leftovers for the week. One of the more common meals that I make on Sunday is sauce. These days are called ‘Sauce Sunday’ and we like to share them with our family and friends. Our new house isn’t that big, so we can really only invite one family over at a time, but this also gives us a chance to really enjoy the time we have with these people.
It’s taken me quite a while to create a good sauce workflow. I wouldn’t call it finished, as I am always looking to try new things. However, my go-to recipe is based on a small course I took on Skillshare with the founders of The Meatball Shop in NYC. (I also use their basic meatball recipe, as well. I’ll save that for another post, though.) This sauce process is pretty simple, but I extend the time spent simmering and I add in a few twists. It is a very basic sauce, different than some others I’ve heard of. I’ve heard of people throwing in peppers and celery sticks- this recipe includes none of that.
First, the onions heat up low and slow in some oil- 15 minutes to a half an hour. Once they are somewhat soft, I throw in the garlic, bay leaf and chili flakes. 30 seconds or so later (when you can smell the garlic), I add the tomato paste. Let it brown. (If it looks dry at this point, it might need a dash more of oil.)
Next, time for the tomatoes. If you love chunky sauce, squeeze some whole, peeled tomatoes in your hand. I use crushed tomatoes and sometimes puree (or passata). You can also use just puree if you like a smooth sauce. I picked up some cans of crushed tomatoes by Cora during my last trip to Guercio’s. Next, I place some oregano in a tea bag and place them on top of the sauce. You can also do the same with cheese rinds. (I place these in a tea bag so that they don’t burn in the sauce, which has happened to me before with oregano.) Cook without the lid for 30 minutes, and with the lid for 45 or more. I usually add meatballs and hard-boiled eggs for the last 45 minutes (or more). Right before serving, mix in 3-4 basil leaves (I picked this up from Laura in the Kitchen).
Cooking also has provided me with some time to get outside of my work. I have been stressing quite a bit on working on my proposal, teaching, and work …and finding ways to balance being present for my husband, family and friends. Cooking on Sunday allows me time to decompress, focus on something else and to make something- because I love making things. The funny thing is that I am not alone when it comes to cooking being a form of ‘meditation’. In fact, as I would describe my process of working through my dissertation topic to others over the past few years, many people would chime in that cooking also is a way for them to get outside of their head for a while and concentrate on something else. In some cases, answers would come to them as they were cooking. In most cases, baking or cooking rejuvenated their mind for the next time they would use it. May we all find the special time each week to spend rejuvenating, creating and with friends.