Monday, October 25, 2010

Sweeten Your Own Tomato Sauce Naturally

There's no denying it: store-bought bottles of spaghetti sauce are easy to buy, store, and "prepare". And some of them really do taste delicious.  Often it's because they are sweetened with corn syrup or sugar.

You can create your own tasty tomato sauce, however, using naturally sweet ingredients without resorting to sugar.  The following foods, when cooked, will release their own natural sugars into the sauce:

1.  Onions - An amazing amount of sweetness is released from a cooked onion.

2.  Carrot - This too is a particularly sweet and starchy vegetable. It acts as both a sweetener and a thickener.

3.  Sweet Red Peppers - Also release a subtle sweetness.

4.  Raisins - Funnily enough, several raisins sprinkled into the sauce and allowed to stew for ½ an hour or so will add a surprising touch to a tomato sauce (though not to everyone's liking).

5.  Clove - The addition of 2 or 3 clove buds (or a mere pinch of ground clove) will also sweeten and add a dimension of richness to the sauce. (Yes, clove accents tomatoes well.)

Here is a recipe for a chunky sweet sauce to beat any supermarket brand:


28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 medium carrot
sea salt, dried basil, seasoning to taste
3 clove buds
2 medium onions
1 small/medium red pepper
olive oil

Start by pouring the crushed tomatoes into a sauce pan and putting it on a burner cranked high.  Peel one medium-sized carrot and cut it in half (to fit into the sauce pan), and let it cook in the tomatoes as their juices are reducing.  Sprinkle some sea salt and dried basil in, and add 3 clove buds or a tiny pinch of ground clove.  Once these ingredients have reached a boil, turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer.

No slice or chop the onions and the red pepper (not too fine) and add them to the pan.  Let it continue to simmer with the top on for an hour or so - checking it occasionally. When you see that the carrot is fully cooked, gently mash it with the back of a fork and distribute it throughout the sauce.  No one will ever guess there is a carrot in there!

Once all the vegetables are fully cooked, and the tomato juices sufficiently evaporated away, you will have created a thick, slightly sweet, richly flavorful sauce.  Take the pan from the burner and stir in 3 TBS or so of your best olive oil. (Tip: Olive oil is best when added to food after cooking in order not to dissipate its healthful properties through over-heating.)

This sauce is guaranteed to stick to the pasta and to your ribs, and keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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