Saturday, 15 March 2014

Chain Reaction: Italian Week - Tomato Sauce, Pizza and Lasagne

Sometimes one thing leads to another. I like to have some kind of cooking chain reaction, when the leftovers of a meal come to star in another meal or two or even more. I dreamt of five meals or so. Well, I will be satisfied with less ... for now.
It all started with a tomato sauce. No, not exactly, it started when I found some lovely celery sticks and carrots smiling at me. When celery and carrots smile at a man, the only thing you can do is smile back and ... cook with them.

Meal 1: Pasta with Tomato Sauce (call it vegetarian bolognese, if you like)

Before I go on, I just want to tell you, I couldn't find the photos of the pasta with tomato sauce. Maybe that's because I didn't take any.

I put a large pan with olive oil on medium heat. Then I went about finely chopping two cloves of garlic, an onion, four celery sticks and two large carrots. All the tiny bits of vegetable ... eh, maybe I didn't chop them that fine ... went into the pan in order to be soften. Have patience and enjoy the process.
Next I poured a tin of tomatoes (400 ml) into the pan with some extra water. I better should ave taken two tins or a larger one. That's why I added some fresh tomatoes and a bit of tomato puree later on. Oh, some chopped up red chillies will give the sauce some extra heat, too.
It's important not to forget the seasoning. Good I didn't forget it the same way I forgot the photos and (you will see later) something else.
Anyway, now you want to get the content of the pan boiling and then leave it simmering for 30 minutes.
At this point you check the seasoning again. Better safe than sorry.
Now a splash of red wine vinegar comes in handy and ... you have to make a decision. You could just break up the tomatoes with a spoon or put the whole sauce into a blender and ... let things go. I went with blender. I wasn't in the mood for coarse consistency this time.
Finally I added some chopped up fresh basil.
Cook your pasta according to the package instructions, if you are not doing fresh pasta.
Again, if you don't forget, you could catch up some of the cooking water to add to the sauce.
Whatever the case, have a plate of pasta with the tomato sauce and some parmesan on top. It won't disappoint you.

Of course we have some leftover tomato sauce in order to continue ...

Meal 2: Four-cheese Pizza

I had to do this. It was about time I do a post with pizza again. You can never have too much.
I want some tomato sauce for my pizza before I put the final topping on, no matter what it is. At least that is what I think right now. Well, I can't remember it otherwise right now, I forgot it (with all this forgetting, I reckon I am getting old).

Fine, we already have our tomato sauce for the pizza. What else? Of course, the pizza dough. You can use your favourite pizza dough or have a look here for a recipe.
More? Sure, the four cheeses. I took buffalo mozzarella, gorgonzola, parmesan and a fourth very delicious Italian cheese, which unfortunately I (here it comes again) forgot the name of. The cheese was very creamy and in fact you get the most of that cheese when you eat it just the way it is. Yum!
Once you have all the components read, heat up the oven to 250 °C (unless you have a pizza oven). Roll out your dough and thinly spread on some of that tomato sauce. Then scatter as much of the cheese all over the pizza. Make sure to taste small bits of cheese to survive the time until the food is ready.
If you feel like it, you can finish off the pizza with a splash of olive oil. Since we are having an Italian week here, in fact, you can put a splash of olive oil to anything we are having.
My pizza was ready after 15 minutes ... well, I cut it into pieces ...

... and went for it ...

It was so yummy, I could have had more. Luckily, I already had frozen the remaining pizza dough. In time, that would be meal 4, but until then it is resting in piece.
So, if you love cheese, that's your pizza. At least it's mine. Even now while I am writing this done I am starting to salivate again. Or is this due to the fact I had some of meal 3 ...

Meal 3: Lasagne (do I have to say more)

Still I am doing Italian ... thanks to that lovely tomato sauce. I was so glad I still had that much left over.
Another pan goes onto the oven and again some olive oil is heated up.
I have 500 g of minced pork that needs some browning in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Watch as the heat does it's job. Add the tomato sauce when the meat is ready. Stir through well and heat the sauce up.
Meanwhile you have a sufficiently large tin (mine was 35 cm x 25 cm) ready. Add some - I told you so - olive oil to the bottom of the tin. then lay out a layer of lasagne sheets.
Oh, we would need some kind of bechamel for the lasagne as well, I reckon. Nah, forget about it. We are doing a cheat version. Mix 200 g of crème fraîche with salt, pepper, a large hand full of grated parmesan and an egg.
Next onto the lasagne sheets goes a half of the minced pork tomato sauce, then half of the bechamel cheat, then some lasagne sheets again, followed by the remaining meat, followed by the remaining bechamel cheat. Well, how does that look?
Obviously something is missing. Ah, here we go, I topped the whole thing with 200 g of grated mozzarella cheese and ... you know.

30 - 35 minutes in the oven, which has been heated up to 200 °C, will do. The cheese will turn brownish.
Now you would only need to slice the lasagne up and serve it. Dig in! The lasagne was as delicious as the pizza. Dangerously delicious!

You might get some further ideas and serve a rocket and tomato salad on the side. However, I was satisfied with as it was. After all, I know about all those vegetables hidden in that meal.

When some lovely ingredients smile at you, smile back and get cooking.

Now, what about you, do you have any chain reactions going on in your kitchen? While I don't want to turn this into a blog challenge necessarily, why not share your Food Chain Reaction Stories with us by linking up a post in the comments and ... see what will happen.
Since I also made good use of the leftover tomato sauce, this is a fitting post for Elizabeth's from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary No Waste Food Challenge, which ... what a coincidence ... is hosted by my own self this month.


  1. oh it really is an Italian feast. I do so love italian food and the four cheese pizza is a stunner...

    1. It was so yummy. Since Italian food is so lovely I simply have continued to have something Italian every day since.

  2. What a feast, Chris! I wish I could tuck in

    1. Well, apart from the pizza dough in the freezer everything is gone by now.


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