Bordering on getting a little too sappy- there are some people who just make me smile. I met my friend Lauren in French Class during my freshman year of High School. I was the new kid in school, and I was terrified, but she, and a few of the other kids in that class somehow made me feel welcome and became some of my first friends at the new school. Actually, now that I look back- that French class was pretty awesome! There were some great people in there. Kudos to learning verb conjugation and watching crazy French movie! C’est Boom? I think there was a movie called that. Anyway- I’m stumbling down memory lane as opposed to finding my point. Lauren and I have remained good friends and so the other day when she asked if I would like some tomatoes from her mom’s garden- well- I couldn’t refuse! Of course, knowing Lau’s mom I should have known that the package that was brought to me would be more than just a few tomatoes from the garden. Lauren’s mom is always so lovely and generous, and had included not only some beautiful red and yellow tomatoes, but beautiful tiny round tomatoes (Sweet olives?), a gorgeous eggplant, two lovely peppers, and wonderful packages of herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, mint…) all labeled and perfectly preserved. I was in gift garden heaven!!
I wanted to rip into the bounty immediately, unfortunately my schedule the past few days prevented me from doing so until last night. Last night, dinner at home, and John’s request- something with Pasta and with Meat. There we stood, in the market, staring at the meat counter as I racked my brain to come up with the perfect meal that would satisfy John’s craving. Finally, I had it. Steak tips cooked in a tasty red tomato sauce, bursting with flavor from beautiful, lovely eggplant, and wonderful herbs. We purchased the necessary, and some not at ALL necessary, ingredients and headed home to make dinner.
“Slow Cooked Bolognese” For a Wednesday:
3 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 lb steak tips, patted dry and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
½ cup of good red wine
1 small eggplant, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp fresh Basil, chopped
1 large can, San Marzano Diced Tomatoes
1 tbsp Sundried Tomato Tapenade
1 tbsp Olive paste
1 tsp Tomato Paste
Salt and pepper
¼ lb orrechiette pasta, or your favorite type, cooked al dente
Begin by placing the pieces of bacon in a single layer in the bottom of a large skillet, pre heated, over medium to medium high heat. Once crisped, remove the bacon from the pan, and discard 3/4s of the bacon grease. Remove from heat for a few moments to allow to cool slightly, and then add the olive oil, and the garlic. If your pan is too hot the garlic will burn and become bitter, if you see this happening, remove the pan again from the heat and continuously stir the garlic for a matter of minutes.
Once the pan has been returned to the heat, add the steak tips, in a single layer and brown on both sides. Lower the heat to medium and add the 2 tbsp parsley, the eggplant, and the wine. Let simmer for a few moments as the alcohol cooks out, and then add the peppers, 2 tbsp basil, the tomatoes, tapenade, and the pastes. Allow to simmer and taste periodically, season as needed.
Allow the sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes to a half an hour (or as long as you can wait for dinner) over low heat, and then add the pasta and stir. Plate in big bowls, sprinkle the crisp bacon, and remaining herbs over the top.
This was such a tasty meal! The flavors of the sauce, I’m sure helped along by the smoky bacon grease and the wine, were nice and full, rounded as they might have been if they had been a slow cooking recipe. The beauty though was that after a long work day, this same type of flavor was achieved in a much shorter amount of time. The steak tips were moist and tender, filled with lovely flavor of bacon, wine and fresh herbs. This was a perfect meal on a chilly fall evening.
Recipes like this one, you can definitely go a bit lighter on the salt because this incorporated ingredients like store bought canned tomatoes, and the sun dried tomato tapenade, and olive paste where I wasn’t able to control the amount of salt. Definitely taste as the sauce develops to see if you need more salt before adding it.
I am so thrilled I was able to incorporate so many of the lovely garden veggies and herbs that Mrs. T sent over- they were all perfectly beautiful. I actually made myself a monster salad with the tomatoes as I couldn’t bear to combine them with canned anything, and they were absolutely delicious!!! Thank you so very, very much!
Nothing pleases me more than sharing garden bounty with the exception of hearing about it being put to good use. I was so excited to read your blog entry and see the beautiful pictures! If you still lived around the corner, we'd be sending over seasonal herbs and veggies galore! Keep up the great work. Your creativity is an inspiration to all who love to eat, cook, read, travel, and dine out. You do Westford and all who know you proud! XOX
Sherri(AKA Mrs. T)
Thank YOU Sherri!! I thought I'd protect your identity :-). Thank you so much... All of the "garden bounty" was amazing and so fresh and flavorful!
This was a touching entry, Fiona. I guess I don't have to worry about you staying home to reorganize your sock drawer or wash your hair to avoid hanging out with me anymore. :P
hahaha- hey- I had a hectic schedule!!! :-) Seriously though- what WAS the name of that movie we watched? The one that DiDi had to turn off before the end because it was turning risque?
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