Friday, August 10, 2007

Lightening Up Lidia's Tomato Sauce: An Exercise in Almost

Sometimes the snow comes out in June.
Sometimes the sun goes ‘round the moon.
Sometimes, a healthier version of a beloved dish doesn’t work as planned.
Sometimes, I wish I was a ma … never mind.

This week, as promised, I tried to lighten up Lidia Bastianich’s recipe for tomato sauce. The full-fat version is a favorite of my taste buds, and highly recommended to people of all genders, ethnicities, faiths, phylum, genus, and species.

The half-fat version ... not so much.

While definitely pretty good, it didn’t quite live up to oily wonder of the original. If I made it again (which wouldn’t happen until 2025, since I quadrupled the recipe for freezing purposes), I’d add more salt, take out a bay leaf or two, and use less celery and carrots. The celery, in particular, was very strong in my rendition, and threatened to (but didn’t quite) overwhelm the tomato.

Again, it wasn’t bad, but if you’re okay with the fat content (roughly 10g per serving), I’d suggest cooking the sauce regularly, as god and Lidia intended. If you’d still like a lighter adaptation, this version from Cooking Light is aces.

Light Lidia Bastianich Tomato Sauce
23 servings - ½ cup each
Adapted from Lidia Bastianich.

4 35-ounce cans of peeled Italian tomatoes, seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup finely shredded peeled carrots
1 cup finely chopped celery (including leaves)
4 dried bay leaves
Crushed red pepper

1) Either push the tomatoes through a food mill (fine disc attachment) or crush them with your hands into a large bowl.

2) In a huge pot or large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium. Add onion and cook about 3 minutes or until a little soft, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and celery. Cook about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Pour tomatoes into the pot. Add bay leaves and bring to a boil. Season to your taste with salt and red pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a thick consistency. This should take about 45 minutes or so, but you can go longer if you like a thicker sauce. Take out bay leaves and season to taste.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
86 calories, 5 g. fat, $0.35

4 35 ounce cans of peeled Italian tomatoes: 800 calories, 0 g. fat, $6.00
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil: 960 calories, 112 g. fat, $0.64
1 large onion: 140 calories, 0 g. fat, $0.38
1 cup carrots: 50 calories, 0 g. fat, $0.30
1 cup celery: 20 calories, 0 g. fat, $0.50
4 dried bay leaves: negligible calories and fat, $0.15
Salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.04
Crushed red pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.15
TOTAL: 1970 calories, 112 g. fat, $8.16
PER SERVING (TOTAL/23): 86 calories, 5 g. fat, $0.35

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