First of all, this is the biggest onion I’ve ever seen:
To give you an idea of size, I put it next to my coffee cup. I bought this at Central Market, and it’s a sweet onion originating in Hatch, New Mexico. It weighs 2.08 pound, so it’s like 4 large onions in one. Now that I got that out of the way, on to the dish at hand. I used one quarter of this giant onion in this sauce.
This is a spiced up version of marinara sauce. It’s called Salsa “All’Arrabiata” which means “angry” in Italian, referring to the spicy nature of the sauce. This particular recipe is from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis. I love this cookbook because it has so many basics of classic Italian cooking. Italian really is my favorite cuisine, because it’s relatively uncomplicated, and it’s hard not to love the flavors. Also, when you cook Italian, almost all ingredients are pretty easy to locate in the average American grocery store.
The base of the sauce consists of crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, and salt. What makes it All’Arrabiata are the red pepper flakes, olives, and capers. It’s a very easy sauce. Not many ingredients, and once you get everything together, the cooking time for the sauce is only 20 minutes. You can also easily make a double or triple batch and freeze to minimize your sauce-making effort, as with any other tomato sauce.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion
2 or 3 cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 cup pitted black olives (here, I use kalamata olives, but canned black olives are fine)
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes (I err on the side of more, just because I like this sauce to be very spicy)
1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
In a large skillet with deep sides or a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. While the oil heats, chop the onion and garlic. Chop the onion first, because it needs more time to cook than the garlic will. I tend to chop my onion into pretty large pieces, though others prefer very fine pieces. I usually chop larger chunks just because it takes a while to finely chop an onion. A food processor is actually good for this purpose, but I don’t own one. Once chopped, add to the pot.
Crush the garlic cloves with the side of your knife to loosen the peel. Peel.
Chop the garlic:
Add to the onion to cook. Give it a stir, and let saute for a few minutes. Meanwhile, chop the olives, and measure the capers.
Capers generally come in a little glass jar like this one, and you can usually find them where you find jarred olives and vinegar.
Add the olives and capers to the pot, plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt:
Add the red pepper flakes. I buy these from the bulk foods department at the grocery store. Like most spices, red pepper flakes are much cheaper if purchased from bulk foods, and you can buy exactly as much or as little as you like.
After you add the red pepper flakes, give the mixture a stir to combine, and add the crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine, and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Your stove is on medium heat, so turn it down to medium low to low heat for the cooking time. Stir every 5 minutes or so.
I ended up with a pretty chunky sauce, mostly because I can’t be bothered to finely chop my onions….You can use this sauce on anything, but the obvious option is any kind of pasta. I also enjoy dipping bread in it. Buon appetito!