I have to say, I own a lot of cookbooks. Not as many as some- I am thinking of one person in particular, Heidi Swanson, whose website 101cookbooks.com is a sight to behold and an amazing resource – but enough so that I do consider shelving and location for them when setting up my space. I can’t really think of a single downside to having many cookbooks, other than finding space for them, and having to pack them when we move. But if I had to only have one (horror of horrors) then I guess it would have to be something that was not only sizable but one that had recipes I could improvise off of easily, and that could be easily vegetarianized and veganized. So, with reservations (since I really hate to have to imagine such a scenario) if I had to have one cookbook, it would be The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl (goddess) and published in 2004.
The Gourmet Cookbook is large and yellow and has the classic Gourmet layout, in which each recipe is preceded by the cooking time (both active and resting- chilling/rising/marinating etc), and the number of servings. It also contains useful information about ingredients and has a sources section with resources for finding some of the less common items.
I know some people may be surprised to hear that I am such a fan of this cookbook considering my vegan/vegetarian leanings, but I really cannot emphasize enough my feeling that in order to keep one’s cooking out of a rut it is important to stay in touch with all kinds of cuisine and get inspired by the classics, the exotic, the challenging and the simple.
So, this past weekend when I was trying to think of an easy and comforting Sunday night dinner that could be made mainly out of ingredients I had on hand, I opened up The Gourmet cookbook and was very happy to find this Arrabbiata Sauce. I have to recommend San Marzano tomatoes if you can get them- they really are superior.
Arrabbiata Sauce (spicy – or ‘angry’ in Italian, c’mon how cute is that?)
Makes 6 cups, enough for 2 pounds of pasta, active time: 20 minutes, start to finish 1 hour.
3 Tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (this makes a seriously spicy sauce, if you want a little zing just add 1/4-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, you’ll taste them, trust me)
2 (28 oz. cans) whole tomatoes in juice, drained (juice reserved), and chopped (I did not do this, I just threw them in the pan, and just broke them up as they softened).
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup fresh basil or parsley, chopped (I used both, and definitely more than 1/3 cup!! Why not?)
Heat oil in a 5-6 quart pot over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring until garlic is golden, about one minute. Stir in tomatoes, juice, and salt and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened, 35 to 40 minutes. Stir in Basil.
Serve with your favorite pasta shape
How easy is that?