Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Cannelloni, Part 3: Simple Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes are an essential part of most Italian cooking. Because it is a cuisine that relies upon savory flavors like meat and cheese, tomatoes are often the perfect tart balance. That is definitely true in this cannelloni; stuffed with mushrooms and spinach in a creamy white sauce, it cries out for a little acid. This tomato sauce is bright and simple with a rustic texture and lots of flavor. It goes perfectly with this dish, but it would also be excellent in a variety of recipes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion diced
1 carrot diced finely
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup red wine
2 32 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup basil leaves chopped
2 bay leaves

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, and bay leaves and return to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour, until the sauce has thickened somewhat. Once the sauce is cooked, you can purée it in a blender or food processor, although I chose to keep mine chunky.

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