Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Simmery, Peppery Goodness

Like most cooks, I have that standard recipe for tomato sauce that I always, always use. Last night, however, I was feeling particularly adventurous, so I tried a Red Pepper Sauce from Betty Crocker instead of my boiler plate family version.

In moving away from the BC standard, which demands processing the sauce to a thick, expected saucey texture, I decided I was more in the mood for a stew-like effect, where each ingredient retains its integrity. I also let the sauce simmer and reduce by half, so by the time I got to it, the flavors had melded together.

I also added pine nuts and mushrooms to the sauce, to make it a bit more substantial, and served it over mushroom tortellini. I'm sure it would be delightful without, but since this was dinner rather than a side dish, I decided to throw in a few more flavors.

I also really enjoyed mixing the balsamic vinegar and honey in with the tomato and pepper flavors. It worked out really well; definitely something to save for future endeavors.

Normally this dish calls for 2 red bell peppers. Partially because I was intrigued, and partially because last night was the night before a grocery run, I used a medley of sweet peppers instead. In this particular instance, I recommend following the original dictum. I love orange and yellow peppers, but they just weren't made to be in this sauce. It worked out just fine, but I don't think I would repeat it.

Finally: I am suspicious of any recipe that does not call for garlic. I will concede that most of the time, risotto works better without it. Also, the pumpkin lasagna I love so much and the tomato-basil-mushroom quiche that I made twice in a row for work lunches would suffer rather than benefit from garlic's addition. However, I feel that in general, especially tomato and pepper based sauces need to prove to me that garlic does not belong there. This one failed the sniff test.

Finally, this dish almost had a beefy smell to it; I'm curious as to what would have happened had I added beef stock instead of veggie.

And so, with that said, the recipe:

2 medium bell peppers, red, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 cup veggie/chicken broth
1 tbsp oregano

Mix chicken broth, oregeano, honey, and balsamic vinegar in saucepan over medium-low heat. When hot, add remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer at least 8-10 minutes. Blend if desired.

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