January 8, 2009

Perhaps it's because, recently, it was announced that Victor Hazan was going to write his wife, Marcella Hazan's, memoir. Or because Gourmet magazine's January issue features Italian cooking and mozzarella biznaz. Or because I needed an easy and effortless showstopper to feed my brothers when I finally invited them over for dinner. But I felt the need to make Salsa Rosa.

I begged for this recipe from my sister's friend's mother because I needed to know what was in this ridiculously good sauce. To an Asian-American, Salsa Rosa struck me as something that was so of another kitchen, of another place. It was effortless Italian. It was by Marcella Hazan.

Marcella Hazan moved from Cesenatico, Italy to New York with her husband. She was originally a biochemist, which... swoon. She made a business of holding cooking class in her small apartment, and miraculously got the NYT to endorse her small business. She turned into an authority on Italian cooking. Can you see why I like her? She seems hearty.

Marcella Hazan's Salsa Rosa is 5 ingredients, and they are staples. So why does it taste so good? If a guest asks you , say "carrots". I'm pretty sure it's the butter. It mellows the tomatoes out. It gives a very full bodied flavor that imbues the kitchen. You can put it on top of chicken, fish. I made an eggplant Parmesan. And It is so incredibly easy. This is a recipe where preparation, instead of crazy ingredients, makes all the difference. You don't need cheese. You don't need basil.

MARCELLA HAZAN'S SALSA ROSA (makes 2 cups sauce, good for a lb of pasta)

SUMMARY: Make this when you want something great when people least expect it. You will Chop and saute, and then let simmer for 45-60 minutes. This time is crucial and should not be cut short. While things simmer, boil pasta 5 minutes before blending for good timing.

WARE: A 2 quart pot, a blender or immersion blender - a must

TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 15 minutes; active time 15 minutes

- 2 T chopped carrots
- 2 T chopped onions
- 2 T chopped celery
- 1/2 stick butter (don't skimp)
- 32 oz stewed tomatoes (San marzano, yeah, yeah)
- 1/4 c cream - completely optional, I don't, but Marcella does
1. In a 2 quart pot, melt butter and saute all vegetables on med-high for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add salt to taste. Don't put too much, you can adjust salt in the end as well.

2. Pour in stewed tomatoes. Don't worry if they are whole. They will melt/blend. Bring to a boil and turn to low. Cover and cook for 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil if you are making pasta. 5 minutes before blending, stick pasta in and cook until al dente.

3. One the sauce has cooked, blend with an immersion blender or in a standing blender. You may have to cool the sauce before blending. Or blend in small spurts. Between spurts lift off the top to let steam escape. Otherwise things will EXPLODE. You are putting air into the sauce to give it lightness.

Optional - return pot to stovetop, add cream and bring to boil.

4. Mix with cooked pasta.

Remember, just say "carrots".

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