jicama-lime slaw

Summer seems to be upon us here in Arizona, even though I think spring only officially got started a couple of weeks ago.  So, with temps in the 90s, and our grill performing its usual work-horse duties, I wanted a side that could herald summer.  Spring is fleeting.  Summer, well that just seems to go on forever.

I have my faithful stand-by recipes, but I like to experiment early in the season to find out if there’s anything worth making for upcoming picnics, get-togethers with friends, etc.  And I’m always enticed by oft-overlooked veggies.  Like the jicama, for instance.  You can find them in pretty much any grocery store, but it’s rare you see recipes calling for this uber-nutritious, fibrous root veggie.  And I’m surprised it took me this long to think of it as perfect for cole slaw.  The flavor and texture are spot on – crisp and sweet, somewhere between a water chestnut and a pear.  The jicama’s flavor is enhanced by the lime and doesn’t give way to sogginess when the dressing is applied.

If you’ve looking for a change of pace from a traditional mayo-based slaw, this one is perfect.  It’s tangy, zesty, and perfectly fresh for summer.  Enjoy!

 

jicamaslaw©zouptonuts

jicamaslaw_2©zouptonuts

 

Jicama-Lime Slaw (recipe adapted from Cooking Light Superfast Suppers)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and shredded
  • 1 c green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine first three ingredients in a medium bowl, tossing well.  Set aside. t
  2. Whisk together lime juice, EVOO, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over slaw mixture and toss well to coat.
  4. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

jicamalimeslaw©zouptonuts

***Cook’s Notes:  I was in time-saving mode, so I grabbed a bag of pre-shredded cabbage in the produce aisle.  Turns out it was the angel hair variety, so a bit too flimsy for my taste, but worked fine.  Next time I’ll either shred my own or make sure I buy a thicker shred.

 

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grilled vegetable sandwiches

Summer is ending.  Fall is arriving…slowly, but arriving.  We had a couple of evenings recently where we sat on the patio and enjoyed what had the makings of a cool breeze.  I think we’ve survived another desert summer!  Which is good and bad, because that means summer veggies are going by the wayside.  But it also means fall root veggies, key to many comfort foods and soups, will be in abundant supply.

While flipping through a cookbook looking for something entirely different, I came across these grilled veggie sandwiches which sounded (and looked) delicious.  My usual cooking routine includes incorporating a meatless meal or two each week.  And, since no one has put up too much of a fight, I’m not rocking that boat.  These veggie sandwiches were the perfect meatless meal, and made for a tiny celebration of the end of the season by using the last of the summer veggies.  For those of you in colder climates, the benefits will be two-fold: enjoying the last of summer vegetables and lighting up the grill one more time – before the lid is frozen shut!  Enjoy!!

Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches (recipe courtesy Cooking Light Superfast Suppers, Oxmoor House Publishing)

dressing©zouptonuts

sliced©zouptonuts

marinade©zouptonuts

grillbasket©zouptonuts

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp light mayo
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into eighths
  • 1 (1 lb) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 sweet onion, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Directions:

  • Prepare grill.
  • Combine mayo and minced basil; cover and chill.
  • Combine oil and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add bell pepper, eggplant, onion, and zucchini to dressing mixture;; toss vegetables to coat.
  • Place bell pepper and eggplant on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill about 6 minutes.  Add onion and zucchini; grill 5 minutes.  Turn vegetables often, baste with dressing, and cook just until tender.  Remove from grill and keep warm.
  • Place bread on grill, cut side down, and grill 2 minutes.  Turn bread, cut side up, and place half of cheese slices on bottom half of bread.  Grill 1 minute or until cheese begins to melt.
  • Spread mayo mixture over top half of bread.  Top bottom half with vegetables, remaining cheese slices, and top half of bread.
  • Serve immediately.

sandwich©zouptonuts***Cook’s Notes:  I used a grill basket for the veggies, which made worries about losing vegetables through the grill grates a non-issue.  Choose a nice, hearty roll.  The ciabattas are great because they hold up well to the moisture from the dressing, grilled veggies, and melted cheese.  Also, I came across this little gem while working on the post; the website for the book Simply in Season, which offers a fruit and vegetable guide for tips on how to choose, store, prepare, and use selected fruits and vegetables.  Good stuff!

penne with herbs, tomatoes, and peas

I’m not one who feels compelled to serve a starch at every meal.  I’d rather double my serving of veggies or add a hearty side salad.   I might even throw some cooked rice or lentils into a salad to beef it up a bit.  But my eaters enjoy their side dishes and I’m easily bored by potatoes.  The poor Irish.  I don’t know what I would have done.  Really?  Potatoes?  Again?

Since I had a flank steak on the grill and my green beans were cleaned and stemmed, I only needed a few minutes to throw this together right before the meat came off to rest.  You can cook your pasta ahead since it’s combined later with the hot ingredients to re-warm it.  I especially enjoyed this as a side because it was anything but “potato boring.”  There are a lot of flavors swirling around in this pasta – from heady garlic and parsley to the sweetness of basil and cherry tomatoes.  I think it would be great adapted to a cold pasta salad, as well, to make it perfect for any end-of-summer picnics you might have on calendar.  Enjoy!

2013-07-28

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Penne with Herbs, Tomatoes, and Peas (recipe courtesy Cooking Light, June 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add peas during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.

2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 4 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high. Add tomatoes to pan; cook 1 minute. Add pasta mixture, salt, and pepper to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Stir in basil and parsley. Sprinkle with cheese.

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***Cook’s Notes:  Don’t cook your garlic for 4 minutes.  It’ll be scorched beyond belief and your pasta will be ruined.  Keep a close eye on it and throw in the tomatoes when it becomes fragrant, not brown.  Also, it’s super easy to over cook a tomato, too.  The recipe says cook for one minute, but I’d say less.  You still have to return the pasta to the dish and re-warm, which will be plenty of time for the tomatoes to heat through.  The original recipe called for regular pasta.  I substituted whole wheat to boost fiber and protein.

tangy vinegar coleslaw

What should you do when you’re having a small 4th of July gathering (3 adults, and a child who wouldn’t touch cabbage with a ten foot pole)?  Why, make 3 pounds of coleslaw, of course.  Actually, I had the foresight to cut this recipe in half, but it still makes a ton.  And, frankly, while I prefer a vinegar-based slaw, I don’t think they keep as well.  So, serve it to a lot of people and eat it all.

With that said, this was a really tasty recipe and I’d definitely make it again.   It had great texture and a nice variety of flavors.  I opted to use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, which is a little more subtle in flavor.  Not too vinegar-y.  The onions gave it a nice little kick, too.  I served it as a side dish, but this would be great on pulled pork or shredded beef sandwiches, as well.  Easy-peasy!  Enjoy!!

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Tangy Vinegar Coleslaw (recipe courtesy Food For My Family)

Ingredients: (I’ve halved all the ingredients from the original recipe)

1/2  head green cabbage, shredded
1/4 head red cabbage, finely shredded (or 1/2 head radicchio for a spicy kick)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar*
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/8 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

Directions:

In a large bowl toss the green cabbage, red cabbage, and red onion until mixed. Set aside.

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and oil. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, dry mustard, and the celery seed. Pour the dressing over the cabbage. Toss to combine.  Refrigerate and serve chilled.

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mu shu pork wraps

These were delicious.  I don’t think there’s anything else I can add.  Oh, yes, and messy!  Not to mention really easy to make.  And delicious.  Did I say that already?

I’m a Cooking Light subscriber, but I must have overlooked these somehow when I received this issue, because I’d have been all over them like…well, nothing you want to talk about in a cooking blog.  Whatever the reason, they went unnoticed until I was working on a weekly menu plan some time last month.  The combination of ingredients was enticingly colorful and…crunchy.  I’m a crunch person, so I can’t go wrong with any dish full of  crisp, fast-cooked veggies.

Although the original recipe called for a head of green or Savoy cabbage, the day I did my shopping I was in a purple kind of mood.  This dish wouldn’t have a lot of color otherwise and I thought the purple cabbage would be a nice compliment to the carrots.  (I know you’re all busting out your decorating color wheels right about now).  Also, everyone’s always telling you to eat a rainbow, right?   Purple cabbage is full of antioxidants and has more of vitamins A and C, and iron than green cabbage.  So, it looks pretty in the dish and it’s good for you!

The prep for this dish is really simple and the ingredients go together quickly, so it really is perfect for weeknight cooking.  My only lament is I didn’t find the recipe sooner.  Enjoy!

sauced © ZoupToNuts

Mu Shu Pork Wraps (recipe adapted from Cooking Light, September 2012)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head green or Savoy cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 (8-ounce) boneless pork loin, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots $
  • 4 mushroom caps, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided $
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 package flour tortillas

Directions:

  1. Remove any loose outer cabbage leaves. Shred remaining cabbage to measure 2 cups. Combine soy sauce and next 3 ingredients (through cornstarch). Cut pork crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stack several slices vertically; slice pork into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Repeat procedure with remaining pork. Add pork, carrots, and mushrooms to soy sauce mixture; toss.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1/4 cup onions; sauté 30 seconds. Add shredded cabbage and water; sauté 2 minutes. Remove cabbage mixture from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add remaining 1/2 cup onions and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add pork mixture; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Add cabbage mixture; toss.
  3. Place about 1/3 cup pork mixture into each tortilla, wrap and serve.

combined © ZoupToNuts

plated © ZoupToNuts
Cook’s Notes:  The original recipe uses the large, outer cabbage leaves for the wraps.  As I’d recently fed my husband dinner wrapped in lettuce, I opted for something a little more substantial and used the tortillas.  You can only get away with lettuce wrapped meals so many times a month!

simple spinach fritatta

If you give my kid the chance to pick dinner it’s either going to be one of two things; homemade mac and cheese, or “Brinner.”  Brinner, you ask?  What the heck is that??  Well, it only takes a little stretching of the imagination to take Brunch (breakfast for lunch) and turn it in to Brinner: breakfast for dinner.

I don’t mind breakfast for dinner.  It’s the sort of brain-dead dinner plan I can get into given I cook every night of the week.  We’re not big fans of eating out, so I have to be on my game planning meals every. single. day.  And, that, fair readers (or, reader, if you will), is a boat load of work.  But, while Brinner is always pleasing to a seven-year-old palate, that doesn’t hold true for her daddy.  After a long day at work, pancakes don’t cut it.  Honestly, neither do scrambled eggs, especially since he’s working on lowering his cholesterol through diet and exercise.  Nothing says, “I love you like a heart attack,” than a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon for dinner.

Which is where the adapted fritatta comes in.  It’s scrambled eggs only…fancy!  It’s also a dish that’s a completely a blank canvas.  You make it whatever you want it to be.  The original recipe called for lots of fresh eggs but I chose cholesterol-free Egg Beaters.  You want onion?  Add onion.  You like yours with a little meat?  Add some turkey sausage or diced ham or leftover shredded chicken.  I kept this one vegetarian because that’s what I had on hand.

It certainly felt more like a meal than a plate of plain-Jane scrambled eggs and hubby gave it great reviews (with a splash of hot sauce).  Next time I might man it up for him a little more with some meat, but even meatless it was delicious.  Enjoy!

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Simple Spinach Fritatta (recipe adapted from Love & Lemons)

Ingredients:

  • 1 carton egg substitute (I used Egg Beaters Original)
  • 1/2 cup milk (any kind, I used 1% low fat)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup (or so) scallions, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
  • pinch of paprika or other spices you like (totally optional)
  • chopped sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (also optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. (preheat a cast iron skillet in it if you like)

Combine Egg Beaters, milk, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and any spices you want to add.  Whisk together until well combined.  Add spinach, scallions, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.   Mix gently.

Pour the whole mixture into your cast iron skillet.  Shred cheese on top and bake in the oven until it puffs up and becomes golden brown. I used an 8″ skillet and cooked them for about 28 minutes. You can eyeball it here or poke at it a bit until your eggs are firm and cooked.

Let cool then slice and serve.

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chopped steak salad

It’s rare I would actually grill a steak for the sake of making a salad.  But, one of my favorite things to do with leftover grilled steak (or any meat, for that matter) is toss it in a salad the next night for a change of pace.  I’d eat salad every night of the week if I could get away with it, and this is a nice way to incorporate a protein with your veggies.  Age-old, time-tested, tried-and-true way to use up leftovers.  And it probably reassures my husband he’s still eating something manly.

This recipe adds cannelloni beans, which bumps up the protein significantly.  They also add great texture.  Honestly, who really needs a recipe for salad, right?  It’s truly one of those meals open to limitless creative inspiration.  I like the sweet, mellow flavor of the roasted red peppers, but for a little heat maybe add some chopped peperoncini.  Just a thought!  Follow the recipe or throw in some of your own unique preferences.  Enjoy!

Chopped Steak Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3/4  pound flank steak, freshly grilled or leftover from previous meal
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 head romaine, chopped
  • 1/4 small head red cabbage, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1  15.5-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  • 1/2  cup  chopped roasted peppers
  • 1/4  cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup dressing of your choice  (I’m a big fan of Annie’s Naturals and used their Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette)

Directions

  1. Heat broiler. Season steak with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and place on a broilerproof rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Broil the steak, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into ½-inch pieces.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the romaine, cabbage, beans, peppers, and parsley. Add the steak and dressing and toss to combine.

Cook’s Tip: The salad can be prepped (without the dressing) and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Toss with the dressing just before serving.

winter vegetable and barley soup

It’s the perfect day for a soup post.  There’s a cold front lingering, skies full of low clouds, and rain.  I love me some rain.  And I love me some soup on a rainy day!  Love.  Love.  Love.  The only caveat is this recipe was only rated two out of five stars, so whether it qualifies as good eats is debatable.  Having now cooked and served it, I think two stars is probably about right if you prepare the soup as suggested.  Personally, I found it a bit too sweet; the result of using both carrots and parsnips, both of which have a very sweet taste.

The first thing I’d do differently to bump up the savoriness would be to swap out the carrots or parsnips for another veggie.  I might replace the parsnips with potatoes, for instance.  Or, leave the parsnips and replace the carrots with tomatoes so you still have some nice color in the finished product.  Unless you like sweet soup, that is.  My husband said he thought it was good, but probably because I had warned him ahead of time it was fairly sweet.  Another option would be to hit it with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a little extra salt once you’ve ladled it into bowls.

Either way, this soup was really hearty and filling, and scored high in the healthy eating category.  The kid-rating was notably low, though, but I think she picked up on my “too sweet” vibe.  Make a few alterations to bring out a more savory quality and I think it would actually please everyone.  Enjoy!

SoupEdits

wintervegetablesoup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice (1 cup)
  • 1 large rib celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (3/4 cup)
  • 1 pound assorted root vegetables, such as parsnips, carrots, rutabaga and/or turnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup pearled barley
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas
  • 4 ounces cooked ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
 Directions:

Heat the oil in a 4- to 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery; cook for 3 minutes, stirring, then add the diced root vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.

Stir in the broth and barley. Once the liquid begins bubbling at the edges, cover the pot and adjust the heat so the liquid maintains a little movement. Cook for 45 to 55 minutes or until the barley is done and the vegetables are tender.

Uncover; add the peas and ham. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until the peas are tender. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the chives.

Divide among individual bowls; top each portion with a sprinkling of the remaining chives, or some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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roasted cabbage rounds

I love cabbage.  There are people out there who need to be convinced, cajoled, tricked into eating cabbage.  I’m not one of those people.  On any given day, I probably have cabbage in my veggie crisper.  In the summer it morphs into slaws and salads.  In the fall it takes the form of soups and stews.  But the other day I was looking for a vegetable side dish and came across this recipe (which seems to be making the rounds on Pinterest).  If you’re so inclined, you can follow my pin boards there, too.

But, I digress.  Anyway, I saw this recipe and had to give it a try.  It originated at MarthaStewart.com and, despite my eye-rolling at all things Martha Stewart, I do concede she employs a lot of really talented and inspired people (No, Martha, I don’t believe you come up with all these amazing things on your own).  I used the remnants of a head of Napa cabbage I’d used for a salad recently and, admittedly, I don’t think it held together as well as green cabbage might have.  But it was simple and delicious and made for what I thought to be a perfect vegetable for a cool, fall evening dinner.  Roasting veggies mellows their flavor so nicely, and that held true for the cabbage.  The caraway seeds were the perfect burst of savory flavor, too.

The original recipe says to roast for 40 to 45 minutes, but the Napa cabbage may be a more delicate cabbage.  I pulled it at about 37 minutes and it was quite done.  It might even have come out a handful of minutes earlier, so watch it closely at the end of your cook time.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cabbage Rounds

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 more Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch thick rounds (I used Napa)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp caraway or fennel seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Place 1-inch-thick rounds in a single layer on sheet and brush with olive oil.
  3. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds.
  4. Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.

This recipe is also linked up over at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.  Click over and I guarantee you’ll find something good to eat!!

easy homemade marinara

I made this recipe for a friend at school who recently gave birth to her fourth child.  She seems relatively non-plussed by the whole situation.  Apparently I’m the one who’s totally freaked out.  I feel frazzled for her!  So, putting myself in her shoes, I thought, “If I had four kids, what’s the one thing I’d want someone to do for me?”  I mean, before they locked me up in the loony bin.

Cook!

There, that was easy.  So I scoured a bunch of recipes suitable for cooking in large quantities: enchiladas, lasagna, casseroles of all varieties, etc., etc., and I found this recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis at The Food Network.  Now, I’ve always been a meat sauce kind of gal.  It’s what my mom cooked.  It’s what I’ve always cooked myself.  To boot, nobody has ever complained when I make spaghetti sauce with meat.  Bam!  So that’s what I’ve always done.  But I always cook with health in mind and I’ve regularly pondered the marinara!

Not knowing whether any of my friend’s kids were averse to meat sauce, I thought marinara would be a safe bet.  The problem was, I made it and gave it away, keeping only what wouldn’t fit in the Tupperware container.

Last night I made a batch I intended to keep all to ourselves and I’m almost afraid to admit I might never make a meat sauce again.  This sauce is so good, so flavorful, so aromatic, so….easy.  The prep is more time consuming than the original recipe indicates (I think they say 10 minutes, but that’s if you’re Giada DeLaurentiis), but if you get all your fine chopping done ahead of time, it all goes together relatively quickly.  Simmer and serve.  Like all good sauces, stews, soups, etc., this one is delicious the day of, but mellows beautifully after a day or two in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Homemade Marinara

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves

Directions:

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

***Cook’s Notes: I threw in a small handful of fresh basil leaves close to the end of simmering. Remove with bay leaves before serving. Also, because I was working against the clock on this batch, my “finely chopped” was a little less than fine. After simmering, I ran my emulsion blender through the sauce to smooth out the consistency.