Some days a big serving of pasta with a simple tomato sauce is really necessary–it’s kind of attitude adjustment on a plate. On some of those days, it has to be really hands-off since I’m slaving at the computer with a deadline and just can’t be mucking about in the kitchen even though I want something to eat.
One of my favorite “comfort-food” sauces is the very simple one from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking–“Tomato Sauce with Onions and Butter” (p. 152). Not even any garlic.
Even though it’s not complicated to make, I wanted it even easier since I had to meet indexing deadline. I decided to try it in the rice cooker since that’s work well for other pasta dishes. (I’m NOT kidding–you can cook pasta in the rice cooker, been doing it ever since I first made mac ‘n’ cheese that way from the recipe that was included with the Krups rice cooker). This is one where I don’t mind having “leftovers”.
Pasta with tomato sauce
- 1 14.5 ounce (411 gm) can of diced tomatoes (no added salt)
- 1 small onion, diced fine
- 2 tablespoons of butter (also good with olive oil, if you want to avoid the butter–or for a change)
- salt to taste
- grated parmigiano-reggiano (for the table)
- 100 grams pasta of your choice
- 200 (about 1 cup or 250 mL) water.
- Microwave the onion with the butter until the onion is soft and translucent. eat
- Add the onions, butter, tomatoes (undrained), salt, and pasta to the rice cooker.
- Turn on rice cooker and continue working until you smell it–about 15 to 20 minutes, and with a little minor adjustment, it should be ready to eat.
The Krups rice cooker (with slow-cooking and steaming functions as well) is not one of the fancy “fuzzy logic” ones. Just simple physics of boiling water–it turns itself to warm when the temperature starts to rise when the water has been absorbed and the temperature goes above 212°F. Simple–and easy to manipulate when you understand how it works.
For this rice cooker, the ratio of liquid to pasta needs to be 2.5:1 for al dente pasta. If it’s not quite there, just add about 1/2 cup more liquid and turn it back on. When the rice cooker switches to warm function, the pasta will be fairly dry since this depends on all the liquid being absorbed. If you’re hanging about in the kitchen, peek in about 15 minutes later and check the pasta and the consistency of the sauce. –
I usually add a bit less liquid –maybe 50 mL short–let the cooker switch to warm, and then add just a bit more liquid, stirring the pasta, to thin the sauce a little, give it a few minutes to heat, and then eat!
I used spaghetti for this, but broke it in half since full length won’t fit in the rice cooker. So far this has worked for all the pasta types I’ve tried–penne, conchiglie, farfalle, fusilli, gemelli, macaroni, orzo, and, now spaghetti. (I’ve only tried “flat” pasta (read “noodles”) once and that has been the only time the pasta stuck together, though that might have been lack of oil during the cooking–or the difference in flour and eggs in the pasta.
It may not be fancy, but….a son goût!