Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Homemade Pasta, Marinara, and Vodka Sauce

You've probably read those articles that warn you against eating 'low fat' dressings and other foods because companies compensate the loss of fat with extra sugar (which is just as much if not MORE of a culprit of belly fat -- eating fat itself can actually help you lose weight, especially in the cases of olive oil, avocado, and almonds). Have you ever looked into what else has added sugar?

Store-bought marinara sauce typically has seven grams of sugar in each serving.

Nutritional Info for Prego Marinara Sauce

Besides the added sugar thing, I've been interested in making my own sauce for other reasons as well. The typical jar of sauce at the store is about five dollars, and there isn't much in that jar. On the other hand, I made a truckload of marinara sauce, which was then added to ingredients you'll see later, to make vodka sauce (about the equivalent of 8 jars) for about 17 dollars, which is just over a dollar a jar.

I also got a recipe for homemade pasta from my mom's friend's blog. This wasn't so much to save money as it was to have fun making our own pasta. Paul also noted that, "If we were ever stuck in a post-terror situation with just eggs, flour, and water, we could survive!" I had to laugh at a scenario that would leave us with JUST eggs (which would be pretty hard to have without chickens!), flour, and water, but he's pretty cute all the same :)

Anyway, here are the recipes I've been promising for a few days!



* 1 lb 2oz flour (use a baking scale!)

* 4 eggs

* About ¼ cup cold water

We got this baking scale at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for 4.99.

Pile the flour in the center of a big clean space, and make a well in the center of the mound of flour. 

Gently break the eggs into the well in the flour.

We'd only added one egg at this point, but I'd definitely recommend a deeper, wider well.

Begin to mix the eggs gently with 
a fork, incorporating the flour, until 
you have a smooth workable dough. 
You will need to add some, or all, 
of the cold water in order to get 
a smooth dough. 

Let the dough rest 
for 30 minutes while you clean up your 
work area. This rest period is important 
to make the dough easier to work with.

Clean and dry your work area and sprinkle it with flour. Divide dough into two portions for easier handling. Place dough on flour and sprinkle flour on top. Roll until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Fold dough in quarters, dust it with flour, and roll it out again until it’s 1/4 inch thick.

Do this eight times. Fold and roll, fold and roll, fold and roll. On the final rolling, roll it to less than 1/8 inch – the thinner the better (trust me on this. We made the pasta two times because the first time it was just a little too thick and wouldn't cook all the way through. You want it really, really thin. You may even need to roll it a few times while you're cutting as the dough is elastic and will try to thicken back up into itself).

The sheet of pasta dough will be strong and moist and flexible.

You can cut the pasta into thin 
strips – linguini – using a pasta cutter 
or a sharp knife. If you use a knife 
you can roll the sheet (like an 
“Aram sandwich) and cut it in thin strips. 
Make sure the dough is well-floured so 
it doesn’t stick together.

I actually had fun cutting it this way, so choose your own path :)

Hang the noodles to dry. 
(Allow at least 24 hours for it to dry completely.) Be aware that the pasta may break off and fall on the flour, but the boiling water will kill any germs :) 

The first finished product (we didn't take photos the second time) These were WAY too thick!! Pasta makers beware.

To cook the pasta, bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add some salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil. The oil makes the noodles glossy.

Pasta will be al dente in approximately 15 minutes.

Marinara Sauce


*2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes 

*1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

*4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

*1 clove garlic, minced

*4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

*1 teaspoon dried oregano

*1 teaspoon salt

*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

*6 tablespoons olive oil

*1/3 cup finely diced onion

*1/2 cup white wine

In a food processor or blender, place Italian tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the finely chopped onion in olive oil for two minutes. Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine.

Simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.

Vodka Sauce


*2 Tbsp. butter

*6+ cloves of garlic (minced)

*1/2-3/4 qt. heavy cream

*4+ cups marinara (see marinara sauce recipe)

*Parmesan cheese

*Mozzarella cheese

*Shot of vodka (if available)

*Fresh parsley

*Fresh basil


*Cayenne pepper

You can buy a basil plant at most grocery stores (I got mine for 3.99!). They're easy to care for, and the fresh basil lasts a lot longer!

Begin by lightly browning the garlic in the butter in a large pan. Before the garlic gets too brown, add heavy cream and shot of vodka (not necessary, but the alcohol DOES burn off, so you're not drinking alcohol, but it brings out extra flavors in the sauce). Stir well, then add 6+ tbsp parmesan cheese and stir. Then, add marinara and cook close to simmer. You may need to add more marinara depending on how you like the sauce. I like mine a nice dark pink color, so I used more marinara than the recipe originally called for. 

Allow to simmer 15-20 minutes on very low heat. Because of the heavy cream, be aware that it will have the tendency to overflow, so make sure to monitor the progress. If the sauce appears too thin, add more parmesan or mozzarella; if the sauce is too thick, add some milk. Add spices to taste, especially parsley, basil, and cayenne. Salt and extra garlic should be used to counteract any over-sweetness.

The finished product?

Vodka sauce, fresh homemade pasta, (store-bought) French bread, and grilled chicken.

Tip: Double the recipe and double bag in plastic freezer bags for quick meals on a busy night.

Optional meal idea: 

Prepare 2 lbs. of penne pasta. Drain pasta and pour into large baking dish. Pour sauce over pasta and mix. Top with parmesan and parsley and bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes.

1 comment:

not2brightGRAM said...

This is amazing! I'm so proud of you and your culinary conquests... Love you!