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Video: Cooking with the ‘sauce boss’

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    >>> we're back now at 8:22. "cooking with giada today," around here we've known her for years because she makes a very special pasta sauce. but now it is official -- she's now been crowned the sauce boss. giada , good morning.

    >> how embarrassing.

    >> it is pretty exciting. explain why you're called the sauce boss. there was a competition, "consumer reports" looked at all the different tomato sauces.

    >> celebrity tomato sauces. and they crowned me as the sauce boss. basically number one beating all my competitors.

    >> including mario batali , vincent's, rao's --

    >> i'm pretty excited. my grandfather would be proud.

    >> you're just not going to keep this as a secret recipe . you're going to share it with all of thus morning.

    >> yes. it is very easy to make at home as well. if you don't want to buy the jarred stuff, start with a little bit of olive oil and diced onion. then we add one carrot, a couple of stalks of celery. the carrots, onion and celery actually add a lot of flavor and the carrots add acidity. canned tomatoes sometimes have a lot of acidity. that makes it slightly sweet, little bit of salt, little bit of pepper. let that saute for eight to ten minutes until they soften. then add the canned tomatoes . add chunky tomatoes, you can add whole tomatoes if you want or pureed.

    >> depending the texture that you like.

    >> correct. then you let this simmer for about an hour. it needs all the favors -- and on low heat. a lot of people do it on high heat. low heat.

    >> do you cover it?

    >> i do not cover it. then i add two bay leafs. big secret. there's no garlic in here. most of people think there's tons of garlic in this. there is not.

    >> because the onion has just been really able to sweat enough --

    >> correct. garlic tends to overpower everything. so i don't put garlic in it. two bay leaves just to give it an herby flavor to it.

    >> i see here the done sauce.

    >> you see how reduced it is? first thing you want to do is take out the bay leaf . you don't want to eat it. it is really strong.

    >> of course not! but we do want to taste this.

    >> you take this out. and then the secret to tomato basil is obviously lots of fresh basil.

    >> lots of it.

    >> a lot of fresh basil which that sauce has, too. sometimes can you finish it with a little bit of butter. i did not. you're done. it just kind of penetrates.

    >> you don't want to use this all at once. so many things we'll tell people in a second. you want to freeze it.

    >> i freeze in ice cube trays and i cover it with a little bit of plastic wrap. can you just freeze them like this. this is great for moms, especially like myself. you can take them out, they're like little ice kubs and melt them in a pan. you can melt them in a pan so you can portion out what you need.

    >> you've given us the secret sauce .

    >> got the sauce. you can use it as a dipping for your kids. chicken fingers , fish sticks . this is my favorite thing in the world to do. you toast some bread. it is great for breakfast. you rub some fresh garlic on the bread. tiny bit of olive oil right over the top . then you spoon a little bit of sauce.

    >> come on in here, lester.

    >> here's your sauce.

    >> hi!

    >> this is a great sunday breakfast, by the way. and then if you can get the egg off, you just kind of do the egg right over the top .

    >> sauce boss. giada , thank you so much.

TODAY recipes
updated 9/23/2011 1:55:23 PM ET 2011-09-23T17:55:23

Recipe: Tomato basil 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, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 (32 ounces each) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 cups basil, chopped
Preparation

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and ½ teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Sauté 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 bayleaf. Stir in the chopped basil. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Total cooking time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Tips

The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.

Recipe: Italian egg sandwich

Ingredients
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 slice rustic white bread (1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup warm tomato basil marinara sauce
Preparation

In a small, heavy skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over a medium flame. Crack the egg into the skillet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the white is firm and the yolk is almost set, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden brown. Brush the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil over the toast. Rub the garlic over the toast, then sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Spoon the drained marinara sauce over the parmesan.

Recipe: Cheesy baked tortellini

Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups tomato basil marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound purchased cheese tortellini
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Whisk the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain.

Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with the smoked mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Cover and bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on top melt, about 30 minutes.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Serving Size

Serves 4 to 6

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