Making pasta sauce doesn't have to take hours or be difficult. I prepared a flavorful, gourmet tomato sauce combining freshly picked San Marzano tomatoes, leeks, fresh morel mushrooms and a red Thai chile with very little effort. I used it with store-bought mushroom ricotta ravioli pasta.
The temperature in the San Francisco Bay Area reached over 100 degrees this weekend and it seems the heat wave is going to continue this coming week. My husband Lulu is ecstatic because the San Marzano tomatoes he planted months ago are finally growing and ripening on the vine. San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of plum tomatoes and they're the best paste tomatoes for making sauces.
Servings: 4 servings
1 pound store-bought fresh ravioli pasta, cooked
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 12-inch stalk leek (white and green parts), chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup milk, warm
2 sprigs lemon thyme, chopped
8 ounces fresh morel mushrooms
2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds San Marzano tomatoes, halved
½ red Thai chile, finely chopped
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning, until the color is evenly golden. Transfer the leeks to a plate. Add the morel mushrooms to the pot and cook until fragrant. Transfer to a separate plate, leaving as much oil as possible in the pot.
In the same pot, melt the butter; you don't want it to burn. Add the flour. Keep stirring for approximately 2-3 minutes to remove the raw-flour taste. Stir until well combined and add the milk in 2 stages. Increase the heat and for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl.
Add the sprigs of thyme, chile, cooked leeks and tomatoes to the pot. Cook over high heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the thyme. Add the reserved morel mushrooms and let simmer for 15 minutes, then radd the butter, flour and milk roux mixtur until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
Sauté the ravioli in a bit of oil in a non-stick pan, then cover with the morel mushroom tomato sauce. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
You could use any variety of tomatoes such as Roma tomatoes and cook with the mushroom of your choice.
Before returning the morel mushrooms to the pasta sauce, you could transfer the tomato sauce to a food mill. If you don't have a food mill, you can use a food processor, then pass the sauce through a coarse-mesh sieve and discard the tomato skin. I wanted the pasta sauce to keep a rustic, wholesome feel so I left it untouched.