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Mediterranean Recipes: Classic Italian Sauces

Nothing speaks to the term sauces like Italian cooking, and the Mediterranean diet contains a lot of Italian dishes. Italians use sauces in much of their cooking, from pasta to meat dishes. With Italian cooking, you may hear sauces called by a few different names.

Marinara

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

12 plum or Roma tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup celery, minced

1/4 cup basil leaves, torn

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Salt to taste

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.

    Blanch the tomatoes in the water for 1 minute and shock them to halt the cooking process. Remove the skins of the tomatoes and roughly chop.

  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

    Add the onion, garlic, and celery and sauté for 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, and parsley and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and serve.

Per serving: Calories 169 (From Fat 125); Fat 14g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 18mg; Carbohydrate 11g (Dietary Fiber 3g); Protein 2g.

Red Wine Marinara

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

8 cups plum or Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup black olives, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

    Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and black olives and cook for 5 minutes.

  2. Stir in the wine, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, and red pepper flakes.

    Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer for 45 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Season the sauce with salt and pepper before serving.

Per serving: Calories 107 (From Fat 52); Fat 6g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 130mg; Carbohydrate 10g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 2g.

Garden Sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

8 plum or Roma tomatoes

1 carrot, julienned

2 zucchinis, julienned

1 yellow squash, seeded and julienned

1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, julienned

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.

    Blanch the tomatoes in the water for 1 minute and shock them to halt the cooking process. Remove the skins of the tomatoes and roughly chop.

  2. Blanch the carrots in the same pot of water for 1 minute; add the zucchini, squash, and bell pepper and blanch for an additional minute.

    Shock the blanched vegetables to halt cooking.

  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.

    Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, carrots, zucchinis, squash, and bell peppers and sauté for 3 minutes.

  4. Stir in the wine and parsley and bring the mixture to a boil.

    Reduce the heat to low for 1 minute, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with pasta.

Per serving: Calories 196 (From Fat 71); Fat 8g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 43mg; Carbohydrate 25g (Dietary Fiber 6g); Protein 5g.

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Meat Sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 46 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried parsley, or 2 tablespoons fresh

2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled, or 1/4 cup fresh

2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled, or 1/4 cup fresh

One 28-ounce can Italian diced tomatoes, drained

One 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

  1. Heat the oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

    Add the ground beef and sprinkle with the salt. Cook the beef until brown about 3 to 5 minutes, breaking it up with fork. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate.

  2. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and sauté until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

    Depending on how lean your beef is, you may need to add a teaspoon of oil to the pan. Stir in the parsley, basil, and oregano and cook 1 minute. Return the beef to the skillet and stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce is thick, about 45 minutes.

Per serving: Calories 232 (From Fat 125); Fat 14g (Saturated 5g); Cholesterol 51mg; Sodium 545mg; Carbohydrate 12g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 16g.

Pizza Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Yield: 3–4 pizzas (4 cups, 16 servings)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

    Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Strain the diced tomatoes and add to the saucepan, and cook for 5 minutes.

  2. Add the vinegar, sugar, thyme, parsley, and red pepper flakes and bring the mixture to a boil.

    Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Blend the sauce with a blender, stick blender, or food processor until smooth.

    Cool slightly before adding to pizza dough.

Per serving: Calories 42 (From Fat 24); Fat 3g (Saturated 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 73mg; Carbohydrate 5g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 1g.

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