One of the good habits I brought back with me from Italy and have kept up – unlike ironing – is how I cook. More specifically, this refers to food items that I now make myself instead of purchase in a jar. They include salad dressing and a basic tomato sauce. Why? They taste better. You know exactly what is inside them. And it feels good. When it comes to the basics, it’s quite easy to pass up the jar and do it yourself.

Vinaigrette salad dressing: Pour a cup of extra virgin olive oil into a small bowl (local if possible tastes the best, in my opinion. We get our olive oil at the local farmers market and it comes from the olive orchards in Corning, Northern California). Pour half cup of red wine vinegar (any will do). Add dried oregano, a small teaspoon of dijon mustard, a few teaspoons of honey, a garlic clove (or less, depending on your taste) chopped finely, and salt and pepper. Whisk together in a small bowl or shake in a jar. Play with the amounts and see what works for you. Tonight we tossed our dressing with our own lettuce and arugula from the backyard garden, and it tasted heavenly!

Basic summer tomato sauce: Place peeled, diced, very ripe Roma-style tomatoes (in can – we like Italbrand – or from the garden or market) in a pan. Salt and cook tomatoes until the water is mostly evaporated. (Americans like sauce runny, Italians do not. I side with the Italians on this one.) At the end of cooking, add a bit of extra virgin olive oil and hand-torn basil.  If the tomatoes are good quality and well matured, the sauce will be delicious. It’s all about the ingredients. Use as a basic sauce to add to, or as is, mixed with spaghetti or pasta of your choice.

Buon appetito!


6 responses to “unjarred

  1. Haha, I know what you mean by the ironing. I never iron anything (I hate ironing, so usually I’ll just take whatever’s wrinkled into the bathroom while I take a hot shower), but it’s common here to iron even the bedsheets, pillowcases, and yes, even under garments.
    Mmmm, making basic sauce on the spot (if I have tomatoes on hand) is the best. The fresh taste really makes a huge difference. It was one of the first things I learned in the kitchen during my first year here, thanks to an older student of mine who really took me under her wing.
    I’m completely with you on the salad dressing, too – my favorite involves just a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a splash of apple vinegar. I’ll have to give your vinaigrette dressing a try – it sounds really, really good.

    • I’ll try your dressing too – I have apple vinegar in the cupboard. do you add directly to the salad or mix before? (and, we had a housecleaner in Italy that ironed as well – oh, how I miss her – which sounds luxurious but is super common in italy since the the cost for household help there is so little compared to here. same in spain?)

  2. Fresh tomato sauce is so good…especially when the tomatoes have just been picked in the garden. I can’t wait until the first tomatoes of summer are ripening on the vine.

    • same here. we had a wierd winter and planted late – so our lettuce is just now coming in – will need to figure out when to swap the winter garden for spring – since spring is right around the corner! thanks for stopping by.

  3. Fresh dressings and fresh tomato sauce are just wonderful. The nice thing of being exposed to other food culture is its enriching impact to your own view about food. I’ll definitely try your salad dressings and tomato sauce. 😉

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