Sunday, March 7, 2010

An Attempt at Trattoria Contadina's Red Sauce

Last night Allison and I had the pleasure of dining at Trattoria Contadina with family friends. The food was delicious, and the hostess, Gina, was awesome. But one thing stuck out. One of our dining companions ordered this delicious roasted yellow pepper with a red sauce, asiago cheese, mozzarella, and fresh parsley (I think). I liked the dish so much, that tonight for dinner, I decided to take a stab at the sauce. Here's how it went.

I bought a can of tomato paste, and some monterey jack cheese with a pesto flavor. I had some soy milk and romano cheese in the fridge back home, along with some fresh parsley and olive oil, so I figured I was set. My plan was to heat up the olive oil in a saucepan, add the soy milk and cheese, and then throw in some tomato paste. I figured I'd toss in the parsley and saute it on low for about 5 minutes while I toasted a bagel.

Here's what actually happened...

I put 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan and heated it on medium heat. When the olive oil was warm I added 1 cup soy milk and whisked for about 30 seconds. Next went in 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, which I stirred until it was all combined. Then came the cheese. About 1 cup of shredded pesto jack cheese, and about 1/4 cup romano cheese. Whisk away until the sauce starts the thicken. Set burner on low, throw in about 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and simmer about 20 minutes.

Sounds easy right?

Well it would have been if I had been paying attention to the temperature of my burners. Like a spaz trying to do too many things at once (laundry, cleaning chard, and slicing bagels) I set the heat of the sauce burner on high instead of low. Five minutes later I heard the terrifying sound of boiling. Yup, the sauce, with its cheese and milk was boiling, and probably curdling. Just like I'm sure they don't do at Trattoria Contadina.

I hustled over and took the sauce off the heat, took the lid off the pot, and peered in. To my dismay, the cheese and milk had curdled just a bit, and the oil was separating out. It tasted fine though, and I'm not one to turn up my nose at an experiment, plus I was hungry.

As I sit here eating and blogging I'm pretty happy with the results. I'm not ready to be a sous chef at any fine Italian restaurant yet. But as long as I keep my eye on the heat, and watch the pot, my next adventure into Trattoria Contadina's red sauce should be more successful.

(Although maybe blogging and eating isn't the best way to stop myself doing two things at once)

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