Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Scarlet Letter" Pasta Sauce: Can You Guess Its Real Name?

Spaghetti Squash with Arrabiata SauceTrue confession time: When I was in high school, I actually enjoyed reading "The Scarlet Letter." The tragic characters and story line fascinated me and the vivid writing swept me back in time. Sadly, no one has ever admitted to me that they, too, liked the book. In fact, I'm not even sure the English teacher who assigned it had any appreciation for it.

That said, I decided to nickname the following sauce after that classic American novel. Can you guess its real name? Here are some clues:

Sparks will fly and your heart will race when you taste this passionate, tastebud-tempting tomato sauce commonly known by its Italian name, which begins with the letter that was scarlet in the famous book.

Traditionally served with penne pasta (and shown here over spaghetti squash), this crimson sauce might make you "angry" if you don't appreciate hot & spicy foods.

Still not sure what its name is? Maybe the ingredients will give it away.... If not, you'll find the answer in the postscript at the very end of this post.

recipe homemade arrabiata sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup diced onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, undrained*
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp (or more to taste) crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano 
1/2 tsp (or more to taste) salt
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
Optional Toppings: Grated or shredded parmesan cheese, chopped parsley

*For the sauce shown in the photo, I used a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes, which added an earthy smokiness and robust depth to the sauce. For a more traditional brighter, more fruity tomato flavor, use a can of regular diced tomatoes.

Chunky arrabiata sauce
Before the cheese & parsley
Heat the olive oil in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft. Add garlic & green pepper; saute until soft and onion is translucent. Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the parsley and cook at a low simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in the parsley and simmer, stirring regularly, for at least another 10 minutes or until the sauce has cooked down to your desired thickness.

Note: I like to keep this sauce chunky, as shown in the photo; if you prefer a smoother sauce, use a hand-held immersion or stick blender to process to your desired texture. You can also pour into a blender to puree as desired (you may need to work in batches).

Zestfully yours,

PS: The real name of my Scarlet Letter pasta sauce is Arrabiata, which means "angry" or "rabid" in Italian -- no doubt a reference to its generous (by Italian standards) use of hot chilies and its resulting fiery flavor!  If you enjoy hot and spicy foods, be sure to check out our newest hot sauces at the Carolina Sauces online store.

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