As wedding gifts, we received two great all-purpose cookbooks:  The Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition and Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything.  I have really enjoyed leafing through them, comparing their recipes to each other and my Gourmet cookbook and testing out new recipes in them.  And between the three of them, there are enough recipes to last me a lifetime!

My most recent attempt was what Mark Bittman dubbed the Aromatic Spaghetti Sauce.  It was late Sunday, we had no leftovers and we were hungry.  I wanted something fast and easy – pasta instantly sprang to mind.

I have actually made Giada De Laurentiis’ version of this sauce before and thought it was merely okay.  It’s a vegetarian pasta, big whoop.  But I had all the ingredients on hand and I figured: Why not?  This time around, I ran all the vegetables through my food processor until they were pretty finely minced.  The smell of them sauteing in the hot oil was pretty amazing, so I could definitely see where the sauce got its name.  And finally, to shake up an otherwise blah Sunday meal, I added a cupful of shredded mozzarella cheese and served it over some orecchiette pasta.

My verdict is – I liked it a lot better this time around!  The key change was mincing the vegetables finely, in my opinion.  The last time I made it, the vegetables were mostly chunky and I didn’t like it that way as much.

This was a light, refreshing meal and I loved the bowl shape of the orecchiette because of its ability to hold even more sauce.  The only way to make it better, in my opinion, would have been serving it with crusty garlic bread (on WHITE bread, gasp!) and a big leafy green salad.  Instead, we ate this curled up on the sofa, watching Dexter re-runs.  Because we’re adults.  And we can.

Holy moly!  Forgot the recipe:

Aromatic Spaghetti Sauce, Sunday Night Preparation
How To Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

3 tbsp. olive oil, separated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) can whole plum tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup peeled, minced carrot
1/2 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced onion
1 cup shredded mozzarella

1.  Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil with the garlic in a shallow saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until garlic is lightly golden.

2.  Add the vegetables and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Halve tomatoes and remove seeds.  Mash lightly.  Add to skillet with salt and pepper.

4.  Let gently simmer until tomatoes break down and mixture is “saucy.”  Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella cheese until melted.  Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.  Serve over pasta of choice.

4 servings