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Roasting Vegetables ~ any new tricks ?

Some of the vegetables I roast on a regular basis, that I don't think I've seen mentioned, are bell/sweet peppers, yellow and green squash, and red & yellow onions. I started doing this combination ever since I had a wrap with these roasted vegetables with hummus. I especially love the onions, they get so sweet! I toss the veggies with S&P and oil and a bit of chili powder and I make a wrap with it with hummus - usually roasted garlic, chipotle, or a cilantro-lime hummus. I always put in the peppers (green, red, yellow, orange) first since they take longer to carmelize, and though most people remove the skin from roasted peppers I personally like the taste of the partially charred skin.

I am a huge fan of roasted veggies, I think it could turn anyone resistant to veggies into a veggie-lover. I thought most vegetables could only be improved by roasting, BUT ... though it seems popular, I've discovered recently that I don't think I like roasted broccoli. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but whenever I do it (I toss the broccoli with olive oil and S&P and put it in the oven at 425 for about 10 minutes), the broccoli gets dried out especially around the leafy part and the bitterness seems to be heightened. Which is basically the opposite of what I expect from roasted veggies - usually they come out sweeter and softer! Anyone with me on the roasted broccoli? What am I doing wrong?

Jun 08, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking

Marinara/Red sauce/Tomato Sauce/Gravy Help?

Wow, that was extremely educational, thanks!

May 07, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking

Marinara/Red sauce/Tomato Sauce/Gravy Help?

I definitely agree with you with ignoring the "rules" of supposed "authentic" methods, and just to make something tasty to your own liking. =) The whole thing about the sugar for me is just due to an implicit rivalry I have with my friend, it's the only thing I want to avoid. I know, I know, it's petty. I definitely don't look down on using sugar, it's just a strange goal I have, to achieve the sauce without using it.

May 06, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking

Marinara/Red sauce/Tomato Sauce/Gravy Help?

Huh, well I haven't tried using the canned whole tomatoes yet, so I'm a little disappointed that they require extra work, I thought I would just be able to hand crush them or put them in a food processor. And I don't own a food mill, so there's that. And I know on these boards people always insist that an extra step isn't that much more work, but personally, to me, it is. I feel that I already put more work into prepping certain foods than I can really afford, out of my love for food, so all the small shortcuts really add up and save me some time and trouble. Especially since some extra steps require using other appliances, and therefore more washing, and I don't own a dishwasher and have a very small sink. So if I ever get a food mill, and I want to spend the extra time to make an especially spectacular marinara, I'll keep your advice in mind. But I'd like to be able to make a good marinara with low-maintenance tomatoes.

Interesting about the San Marzano tomatoes. I actually haven't seen this Muir Glen brand that I keep hearing about in any of my local stores, nor have I heard of Red Gold (though I've never sought that one out). I'd like to know what are the most cost-efficient tomatoes! San Marzano tomatoes at over $3 makes making my own less cost-efficient than jar sauces, which is half the reason why I do it.

May 06, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking

Marinara/Red sauce/Tomato Sauce/Gravy Help?

Thanks for the helpful reply! It's funny, I don't mind drinking red wine, in fact I drink it more than white, but I don't like it in my sauce. And I've used relatively smooth and light-bodied red wines in my past attempts.

Good to know that the long cooking times usually apply to ragus, makes much more sense now. How long do you usually end up cooking your sauce to get to your desired consistency?

Glad I'm also not alone with thinking carrots dull the sauce, I thought I was just doing something wrong!

I'll definitely try using butter in the future, but for petty reasons, I refuse to use sugar. My good friend who is sort of my cooking rival gets highly offended by the use of sugar in marinara and is adamant about being able to make a good sauce without it. While using white wine may be my roundabout way of adding sugar, I just want to be able to say that I made a good sauce without using granulated sugar from the box, lol.

May 05, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking

Marinara/Red sauce/Tomato Sauce/Gravy Help?

I am always tempted to add sugar, but one of my good friends gets so highly offended by this, and claims a good sauce should never need it, that I'd like to find a way around it. I agree with using hot pepper flakes though, that's a must for me. I have to be really careful not to use too much, because while the heat is fine for me, others can't stand it.

May 05, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking

Marinara/Red sauce/Tomato Sauce/Gravy Help?

Thanks for all the information! While I do love my meat, I would like to be able to achieve a flavorful marinara without using meat, as I don't always have it on hand. When would you add the tomato paste if you weren't using meat? I usually saute onion and garlic, add wine and reduce, then add tomato paste, but I don't think it would "fry" with the other liquids in there.

Do you keep the lid off the entire cooking time? What I wonder about slow-cookers, is that you would have to keep the lid on, and I imagine a lot of condensation would occur and it wouldn't reduce, though it does sound convenient!

And amen to individual preferences, to each their own ... gravy. =)

May 05, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking

Marinara/Red sauce/Tomato Sauce/Gravy Help?

I should probably have noted that I use canned tomatoes. I didn't take into consideration quality tomatoes in the past, but I already have some San Marzano tomatoes in my cabinet for next time. I understand that fresh tomatoes are probably best, but I honestly don't really want to do the extra prep every time I want to make a marinara. Maybe I'll try it for special occasions.

May 05, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking

Foods you dread making because they’re time-consuming

The first thing I thought of when seeing this topic was lasagna. Doesn't help that I like to use vegetables (spinach AND red peppers) AND meat (ground beef AND italian sausage), and a bechamel along with red sauce for the meat. My love for "the works" is my downfall. It's not even just the time it takes to make, but the time it takes to clean up that's annoying, and I loathe loathe loathe doing the dishes and have no dishwasher.

May 04, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking

Marinara/Red sauce/Tomato Sauce/Gravy Help?

So making the perfect marinara sauce has been a recent quest of mine, so I was hoping some chowhounders could help me out. I should preface the rest of my post with saying that I know the "perfect" marinara is different for everyone, and while I am open to different opinions, the kind of marinara I'm trying to achieve is a full-bodied marinara with slight sweetness but also a bit spicy, just a little heat. I don't care if it's "authentic" or not, just tasty. So, a few questions ...

1. Wine. What does this contribute exactly to the sauce, aside from imparting the wine taste? I had tried using a red wine before, but I didn't like the bitterness that it left behind. It wasn't a garbage wine or anything, it's something I like to drink, but the degree of bitterness I enjoy in my wine, I don't like in my sauce. I tried another time with white wine, a pinot grigio, and I liked this much better, I thought it cut out some of the tinny and acidic taste of the tomatoes. But I traditionally see recipes call for red wine, so I was wondering what others opinion on this was. Also if you use wine, do you like to add it before the tomatoes and cook it down, or let it cook down along with the sauce?

2. Cooking duration. I always hear Italians talking about how their grandmothers cooked their sauces all day, yet I've seen other sources say that marinara sauce is to be cooked under thirty minutes. One of my Italian friends has also said that he cooks it all day in a crock pot and that it gets rid of the acidity, yet also have seen a poster on here in the past say that doing so brings it out. I want to make marinara with meatballs in the future, so the idea of tossing them in the slow cooker to absorb flavor appealed to me, but if it doesn't make much of a difference I'd rather forgo it.

3. Carrots & celery. I've read in some discussions that the addition of carrots also helps cut the acidity with their sweetness, but when I used carrots and celery in the past it actually seemed to dull the overall flavor. I didn't like the texture it added either, even though they were all finely cut and cooked down before the addition of the sauce. I've found that I don't mind them in a bolognase, but in my marinara, I can't seem to make it work for me.

4. Tomato Paste. Why are some so adamantly against tomato paste? I'd actually prefer if it was omissible, I always use just a tiny bit and have the rest go bad in my fridge!

Sorry for such a long post, and thanks in advance to any feedback!

May 04, 2012
Nanners84 in Home Cooking