Thursday, February 14, 2013

Portabella and Leek Marinara

I love cooking. It calms me down somehow. I think it's the thought of eating that comforts me so much! Some people talk about the joy of seeing someone else enjoy what you've made. That's nice and all, but for me it's all about getting to sit down and eat it myself! Call me selfish, but I love food. What can I say. I make no excuses.

Every Valentine's Day Josh and I have spaghetti and watch a chick flick. We don't like crowds so we avoid restaurants on V-day at all costs. Josh usually cooks, but since he's working today and there's not much time between when he gets home and the boys' bed time, it's all me. I thought I would start early on the sauce. We've been trying to eat healthier and incorporate some good-for-you foods into our diet that we haven't always eaten, like mushrooms. Josh says he doesn't like fungus. I don't blame him. But since I've learned to eat avocados I think he can learn to eat fungus!

Hungry Girl taught me that portabellas make a good substitute for meat. So I decided to incorporate them into our spaghetti sauce. I forgot to buy onions and since I had leeks on hand, I thought what-the-heck, why not? I love marinara because, like salsa, it's kind of a free-for-all. You really can throw just about anything yummy and Italian in there and it comes out great.

So here is my newly discovered combination. Hope you like it!

Portabella and Leek Marinara
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Leek
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
4 oz Portabella Mushrooms, diced into small pieces
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2-28 oz cans Crushed Tomatoes
S & P
Italian seasonings - I used dried thyme, oregano, basil, and fresh rosemary.

In a large skillet or deep sauce pan heat the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering add the leek. If you've never cooked with leeks before, check out this video on how to prep them. Saute the leeks for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until garlic is fragrant.

Now add the mushrooms. I chopped mine up pretty good so they give the illusion of meat. Let everything continue to cook out for a few minutes till the mushrooms brown up, but don't burn. If you like mushroom flavor you can add up to 8 oz. They cook down pretty well.

Once everything is nice and brown and smells like Italian heaven, add the tomato paste, and stir it around to cook up for another 30 seconds. Once it's fragrant and cooked out a bit, add the crushed tomatoes. Stir it all together to incorporate everything. Season to taste. I start with a couple good pinches of salt and lots of black pepper, then add about a handful of each of the dried herbs. You can always add the "Italian Seasonings" blend. That's what I used to use when I first started cooking.

Let the sauce simmer for as long as you've got, but at least for a half hour. The longer it simmers the more the flavors come together. Add any fresh herbs at the end just before serving.

We'll eat this with whole wheat spaghetti and a sprinkling of parmesan, and sourdough bread, followed by homemade chocolate covered strawberries.  Mwah-ha-ha!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

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