Monthly Archives: November 2015

The diplomatic power of cheese

Though certainly the world has many regions and cultures that don’t relish cheese, for many of us, cheese can give us a sense of place and culture. Here, I wax poetic about cheese.
Cheese is often seen as an indulgent additive to other foods, the rich topping that enhances the main or side dish, or perhaps the haughty appetizer or dessert enjoyed by those who appreciate it, and not a meal staple in its own right. You might say that the idea of cheese as a meal is not unlike the idea of buying expensive artwork to furnish a home while leaving the floors bare of furniture. But I would argue that cheese as a meal has merit – nutritional value even.

If I was stranded on a deserted island and could have four foods/beverages (but only 4), I would choose bread, cheese, chocolate, and wine. For someone focused on health and nutrition, those seem anything but sustenance.

While in “real life”, I’m not about to cut out vegetables and fruits (among other foodstuffs), I would argue that if the quality is good enough (stone-ground flour, milk from pastured, grass-fed cows, real cacao, for example), then one could live pretty well on those alone. The antioxidant properties of dark chocolate and red wine are well-known, as are the fiber, minerals, and complex carbohydrates in whole-grain bread. But what about cheese? And why am I – or Western society – so drawn to it?

The diverse, not so subtle range of flavors of cheeses reflects the traditions and terroir (French term for the unique characteristics of a particular place or soil) of the places and people that create them. Whether from cow, goat, sheep, or other animal; whether mild, fresh, sharp, nutty, salty, sweet, pungent, tangy, firm, soft, young, aged, or a combination of several of these flavors and odors, it is pretty amazing how cheese can taste so varied.

A good, or even supremely bad, cheese is memorable. Cheese is polarizing, often an acquired taste. Can’t all of us (non-vegans) remember at least once when a cheese completely made a dish, or conversely, when we encountered one so foul that we could barely choke it down?

Personally, my own memories of my experiences with cheese can be seen as formative and transformative, much like the process of maturity. As a very picky eater, my first cheeses were cottage cheese and cheddar cheese. As I became more aware of taste and texture, I realized that I liked the more mild cottage cheese, but I didn’t care for sharp cheddar. Swiss was too bland (not salty enough) and bitter; muenster was ok but over killed (I still can’t eat it to this day).

Discovering processed American cheese was, like, the best thing ever to a picky five year old. My mother tried to keep me away from Kraft singles, compromising only with fresh American cheese sliced at the deli counter. Looking back, I should have been thanking my mom, but I only wanted the fake stuff. Seriously? The metallic, salty, rubbery slices encased in plastic wrap were better? Clearly, industrial food production was spot on. Kraft couldn’t have hoped for a better customer (if only I’d been the one buying the groceries!).

A few years later, I remember being about 10 and watching my teenaged cousins raving as they ate Brie at Christmas. My younger sister, always game for anything, tried it and was ok with it. But the odor repelled me, and I was too stubborn to try it. Provolone was about as exciting as my cheese preferences went.

Fast forward a few years more, and suddenly Brie was a savored treat; I embraced the tangy mold of Gorgonzola (awesome on steak or salad); feta and Boursin were tasty.

 

one of my recent cheese boards – rich Cambozola Blue, 1000 day-aged Gouda, and English cheddar with black truffles, accompanied by Turkish figs, and champagne orange marmalade

 
And finally, these days, I am hard-pressed to meet a cheese I flatly don’t like (except muenster and sharp American cheddar). Through people and my travels, I revel in a good cheese (especially with wine), whether it is an integrated component of a dish or eaten alone in its own right. As odd as it might seem, I enjoy the earthy taste of a soft, ripe French [read: stinky] cheese grass upon which the cow grazed.

While not everyone is this enthusiastic about stinky cheese, many of you can relate to the wonderful flavor experiences and memories cheese creates.

So cheese is an indulgence to be savored sparingly and with guilt…or is it? Next time in the CD, we discuss some of the lesser-known potential health benefits of cheese and other “live” foods.

Honoring France with Boeuf Bourguignon

This post is a dedication to the people of France, Lebanon, and Iraq in the wake of the tragic attacks of November 13, 2015. Lest Beirut and Baghdad’s losses be dwarfed, the CD will post future Lebanese and Iraqi recipes; stay tuned! May we all stand firm against hate and fear. May we all show love – and possibly a bit of culinary diplomacy – to those in need around the world.

  
Boeuf Bourguignon, or Beef Burgundy, may sound like a fine, complicated example of French hautê cuisine. At its most basic, however, the dish is simply a French country stew. Much like its Belgian/Flemish counterpart, Carbonnade (replace wine with beer), an American Yankee Pot Roast, or even a distant south Asian curry, boeuf Bourguignon is a peasant’s soul food, transforming inexpensive, poorer cuts of meat and simple ingredients into something much greater than its components with a gravy you almost want to drink, it is so delicious. Through braising – slow cooking the meat immersed in liquid – and the labor involved in doing so, this stew turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. The result is a velvety stew with a meaty gravy. A generous use of wine becomes mellow with time and rounded out with root vegetables and mushrooms. Through the human hand, nature becomes greater. How rarely do we see such examples these days?

French cooking has instilled fear in many a home cook; however, it need not do so. With a bit of preparation, and a decent amount of time, you can make this dish! If you look at the process as a sequence of steps, it won’t seem quite so daunting:

Step 1: Browning

  

In this step, the meat and veggies are seared in fat with high heat to cook and crisp their exterior surfaces. Both the stove top and oven play a role in this process.

Step 2: Braising
   

  
Liquid – in this case, wine and stock – is added and used to cook the meat and veggies over low and slow heat. This process spans several hours, but it requires very little attention and effort on your part.

Step 3: Vegetables and assembly
  Pearl onions and mushrooms are cooked separately in a bit of fat and eventually, added to the stew.

Step 4 (optional): Thicken/finish the stew
  
Using flour to make a roux, the stew can be thickened, or uncovered to allow the liquid to reduce, if desired.

So set aside your culinary fears and make a bit of French comfort food to bring together your family or friends!

Tips:
-I have an aversion to pork, so I substituted turkey bacon. It is leaner than true pork bacon, so I had to add extra virgin olive oil to sear the beef. After the bacon is braised for several hour, it loses its flavor, so I discarded it (since it no longer adds any positive value).
-The original recipe called for only one carrot, which I found too meager. I recommend three large carrots to add more color, texture, and nutrition.
-Finally, a horrible bottle of cheap wine can be put to good use! I used an American table wine (Two-buck Chuck) in the style of a Beaujolais Nouveau – nope, not a Burgundy! Save the good stuff to pair with the meal as a beverage.

-To ensure a proper braise without the watched pot, transfer to a slow cooker/Crock Pot instead of the 325 degree oven. Use a high heat setting for an hour or so if possible, and then reduce heat to low for 2-3 more hours (or cook all day).

-If you need to remain gluten free, omit the flour and the last step; the stew will be a bit thinner but still delicious.

-Serve the stew with a starch. Traditionally, potatoes would be served, but I prefer something more nutritious, so I used leftover roasted and mashed cauliflower. You could also try roasted sweet potatoes or puréed celeriac (celery root).

Boeuf Bourguignon

  • Servings: 8+
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Adapted from Julia Child and “The Answer is Always Pork” http://theanswerisalwayspork.com/julia-childs-beef-bourguignon/

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. bacon
  • 3 lbs. beef stew meat, cubed (about 2″)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped roughly (about 1″ or so)
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced roughly
  • 2-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2 cups (or more) plus 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme, divided in half
  • 20 pearl onions
  • 3 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 1 lb. mushrooms (Cremini preferred), rinsed and quartered.
  • 2 Tbsp. flour, optional

Step 1: Browning
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

  If bacon is purchased in a slab, slice in large pieces (do not dice); if already pre-sliced, do not slice further. In a large pot (cast iron or ceramic – like Le Creuset work best), brown (sear) the bacon on the stove top over medium high to high heat. If it begins to smoke, add a small amount of olive oil to prevent burning. Once each side is brown and begins to crisp, remove from heat with a slotted spoon, leaving as much bacon fat as possible in the pot. Do not reduce the heat. If oil does not coat the pan, add olive oil gradually to coat.

  
Next, pat the beef to dry as much as possible using a paper towel. In batches, arrange beef cubes in a single layer in the pot; sear and brown each surface of the cube (about 2 minutes per side); then remove the cubes and set them aside while browning additional batches. Make sure to leave as much fat as possible in the pot for the next batch. Add more oil as needed, making sure the beef does not stick and burn. Once finished, remove the remaining browned meat, while retaining the oil/fat.

  
Brown the chopped onions and carrot by cooking in the same pot over medium-high heat, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Add the beef and bacon back to the pot. Toss in about 1 Tbsp. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper to coat the mixture. Cover and place in the 450 degree oven. Bake for 4 minutes; remove from oven; toss the mixture again and return to oven for another 4 minutes. Remove.

If you plan to braise the meat in the oven (and not, instead, using a slow cooker), reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees at this point. If using a slow cooker, turn off oven.

Step 2: Braising
Return the pot to the stove top on medium heat. Add the red wine and beef stock; stir to incorporate. Add the tomato paste, garlic, one bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. thyme (if using fresh thyme, chop and double the amount). Bring the mixture to a simmer; cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

If braising in the oven, cover the pot and place it back in the now 325 degree oven. Cook for 2-3 hours.

If using a slow cooker/Crock Pot, transfer the stew to the slow cooker’s bowl; turn on the unit. If you must leave unattended for an extended period of time, use a low heat setting and cook for 5+ hours. If you are able, cook over high heat for 90 minutes to two hours; add the pearl onions (see instructions below), reduce heat setting to low and cook for 2 or more hours on low.

Step 3: Vegetables and Assembly
While the meat undergoes the slow braise, cook the Pearl onions: If using fresh Pearl onions, peel them. An easy way to do so is to first bring about a quart of water to a boil in a clean saucepan. Add the onions and blanch for about 3 minutes. Drain and remove the onions. Cut the tip of one end of each onion and gently squeeze each onion out of its skin. You can also rub the skin off with dish towels. Cut off the root ends and set aside.

If using the slow cooker, you can reuse the original stew pot to cook the onions; just discard or gently wipe out any pieces of yellow onion or meat left in the pot. Add 1 Tbsp. of butter and heat on high. Once the butter has melted and begun to sizzle, add the peeled pearl onions to the pot and brown. Add about 1/2 cup beef stock, and the remaining bay leaf and thyme. Toss to coat and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add to the braising stew mixture up to 2 hours before serving or storage.

While the stew continues to cook, rinse and quarter the mushrooms. Over medium heat (reuse the same pot used for the onions), melt 2 Tbsp. butter until sizzling. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt to draw liquid out of the mushrooms and provide additional liquid to cook the mushrooms. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes until the mushrooms have reduced in volume by about half. Remove the lid and simmer on low heat for another 5-10 minutes to allow some of the liquid to reduce.

About an hour prior to serving, you may add the mushrooms to the rest of the stew. Meanwhile, prepare your starch (boil, roast, and/or mash potatoes or substitute (see Tips, above).

Step 4 (Optional): Thicken the stew
If you need not stay gluten free, make a roux to thicken the stew. add about 2 Tbsp. flour to a small, dry bowl. spoon about 1/3 cup of the hot stew liquid (avoid the solid ingredients) into the bowl and whisk thoroughly until a smooth paste is formed. Gradually ladle another 1/2 cup (give or take) of hot stew liquid into the paste and whisk again. Gradually whisk/stir in the roux into the stew pot until fully incorporated. Simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken if desired.

Store leftovers in airtight containers. This dish is one for which leftovers are as good – if not better than freshly prepared!

Freemark Abbey: Cabernet (and more!) Greatness in the heart of Napa

Stop by my favorite winery in California’s beautiful Napa Valley for some of the valley’s best wines. From reds to whites to their rare library finds, theirs are truly worth trying.

If you have been following this blog, it’s no secret that my interest and appreciation for wine goes hand in hand with my love of food, travel, and culture. Why? To tell the story of a place – of a people or culture – wine is often a large part of that story.

For centuries and millennia, civilizations have been blending and fermenting fruit juice into wines. Those wines have been part of many a meal, a celebration, even a sacrament (ok, and more than a few events of intoxication-induced debauchery!). People learn about other people, their heritage and culture, and they bond over wine just as much as over food.

Freemark Abbey’s on-site vineyard

Wine has become so much a part of Northern California culture and its marketing/diplomacy to the rest of the world, thanks to the notoriety its wines have gained internationally. And for tourists, a visit to Napa or Sonoma can be transcendent, if not often overwhelming (tour buses of bachelorette parties, anyone?). And for good reason. Its scenic beauty and what seems like an endless variety of commercial wineries and viticultural areas make for a fun wine education and outing with friends.

  
Of all the wineries I’ve tried, Freemark Abbey is my favorite. Its wines and its people form a great community. My discovery came from an unlikely source: An MBA case study that was turned by my statistics professor into a cursed exam. The exam wasn’t fun, but the subject matter intrigued me. The case centered around the risks Freemark Abbey might take to leave its Johannesburg Riesling grapes on the vine for a late harvest, in the hopes a finicky fungus might take to the crop and produce an extremely rare, intense – and lucrative – dessert wine.

Seriously? Fungus, you say? Just remember the effect of fungal growth on cheese. Gorgonzola, anyone? I know some of you will never get over the idea of intentionally eating something that has rot, but fermentation is responsible for so many of the delicious foods and beverages we eat.  I, for one, was intrigued.

 

Freemark’s wine library represents decades of Napa winemaking traditions and a great sensory history tour!

 
So three years ago, on a day trip to Napa, my friends and I decided to try out Freemark Abbey. We came for the MBA nostalgia, but we were hooked on their fabulous wines. Several visits later, I am a huge supporter of their wines.

 

Judgment of Paris-era wines

 
Having a longer history than many of Napa’s existing wineries, Freemark Abbey has been producing wines for over 125 years. As part of its legacy, its wines were part of the now immortalized 1976 Judgment of Paris face-off between French and California wines. Though California and Hollywood have marketed this event to death for almost 40 years, and I’m sure the French are pretty annoyed with all the hoopla that continues to surround it, it cemented California as an international wine destination and exporter.

Today, Freemark Abbey is transforming its bright – but small – tasting room to accommodate a growing contingent of members and visitors. I’m not sure how I feel about that, because I’d like to enjoy peace and quiet when I visit!
Anyway, enough about the winery, let’s get to the wines! While their Cabernet Sauvignons are my favorite, I enjoy several of their whites, and their Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé is fantastic. So I’ll give you just a few highlights – but keep in mind, this list is not all-inclusive.

Whites:

  

  • Their dry Riesling is fairly mellow and not quite as crisp as other dry Rieslings (my favorites being from Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Germany’s Rhine River Valley), but it still is refreshing and bright in its complexity. A little citrus, a bit of honey – those are the flavors I detected in some great sips.
  • Viognier was an unexpected favorite, as it isn’t prevalent in California. In my humid, hot home state of Virginia, Viognier is one of our best varietals (and one of the few Virginia wines I’d recommend to serious wine drinkers!). Freemark’s deliciously crisp, dry, and fruity Viognier made more sense when they told me their grapes come from the flatter, hotter southern end of Napa county close to San Francisco Bay than the hills around the St. Helena winery.

Rosé
If you like rosé and also drink red wine, this Cabernet rosé is for you. You’re probably more accustomed to Rosé of Pinot Noir or European Grenache. But the bolder, fruity Cabernet Sauvignon lends a deeper, more intense flavor of strawberry and cherry than from a lighter grape – at least in my opinion. My friends seemed to agree and drank all my stash, so I am sadly without.

Reds:

  • Whether you can get your hands on a 2010 (or earlier vintage), 2011, or 2012 of their Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, each one is delicious. The earlier vintages bear the smoothness and maturity of their aging, while the younger bottles are still more than drinkable, with slightly edgier tannins and slightly smokier oak. If you add a bite of cheese or dark chocolate, the dark fruit and hint of sweetness become that much more noticeable.

  

    • Year after year, the Cabernet Boché is the creme de la creme of Freemark’s vineyards produces their best (and thus scarcer and pricier) fruit. It hails from one of Napa’s drier microclimates, so its juice is extremely concentrated. But it’s so good you almost don’t want to waste it on dinner, yet pairing it with food makes it that much more layered in its complexity. It’s one you’d best start before dinner and then have a glass with food so that you can experience every facet of this smooth wine. The 2004 vintage was particularly amazing.
    • Like the Bosche, wine from the mountainous Sycamore vineyard is in short supply, as its higher-elevation fruit is smaller and of less yield. Its Cabernet Sauvignon is complex, yet balanced and smooth.

    Dessert wines:

      

    • Though it is hard to come by, their late harvest Johannesburg Riesling Eidelwein is outstanding. You won’t want to waste a drop of it. It is not at all syrupy; its aroma is part honeysuckle; part peach and pear; and part floral. If you can try a botrytised vintage, its flavors are all the more intense. When I was handed a vintage 1986 botrytised sample, it truly was drinking the nectar of the gods. They also do a delicious Zinfandel port.

    The library tastings:
    I was fortunate to score a library tasting. It was proof that some vintages – and the aging process – can lend legendary status to a wine. On the other hand, the unpredictability of the bottling process, especially with natural cork, can turn what once was an amazing vintage into, well, bad vinegar. (Sidebar: synthetic cork is much more reliable for wine preservation and storage, despite the snootiness and traditional appeal of real cork)

      

    • 1969 Petite Syrah: To my friends, this wine was basically the holy grail of wines. It aged beautifully, retaining its peppery bite but having tamed the acidity, bitter tannins and oak to create the masculine kind of wine one would imagine being dipped in the library with cigars and a smoking jacket. Aside from the reverence for consuming something that is now 46 years old and was growing the year a man first walked on the surface of the moon, it was a wonderfully rich sip.

      

      • 1993 Sycamore Cabernet Sauvignon: Call me crazy, but I preferred the 21 year old Cab to the older Petite Syrah (this is not symbolic of how I prefer my men!). I just happen to prefer Cabs, and this one was luxurious. It was ripe, rich, deeply fruity with blackberry and currant, and its oak, tannins, and acidity all were so well integrated.

        

        • 1981 Solari Cabernet Sauvignon: I was eager to try a wine that was born along with me. I was sadly disappointed that this particular bottle or case had turned to vinegar. So either I aged much better than the wine did, or it doesn’t bode well for those of us born in 1981!

        Italian-Californian fusion: A hearty sauce Romanesca over roasted spaghetti squash

        This classic, hearty Italian sauce adds some masculinity and depth to roasted spaghetti squash for a nutritious and satisfying low-carb, comfort meal. Customize by going meatless or pair it with your favorite pasta for a taste of Roman home cooking in your own kitchen.

         
        I believe that Italian food is the world’s comfort food. Whether you have a taste for Mediterranean calamari, pasta, pollo Milanese, Genovese pesto, northern risotto, or Neapolitan pizza, Italy serves flavors that transcend culture. So after a trying day of wine tasting in Sonoma County, California, my Italian friend’s home-cooked Roman meat sauce (similar to a Bolognese) served over rigatoni and paired with one of our favorite Sonoma Zinfandels, was the perfect ending to one of those days that makes you grateful to be alive and for those around you.

          
        The dish was so straightforward, not the sort of slave-all-day complexity that surprises and delights. Mushrooms and beef are better together than separately. The tang of ripe tomatoes, with fresh basil and a subtle heat create a combination you couldn’t imagine any other way. 

        Personified, this Roman-Bolognese is that friend you haven’t seen in years, but you pick up right back up as if you’d been in touch all along. In other words, make it and you have an instant go-to dish.

        a hearty Bolognese/Roman sauce featuring beef, mushrooms, and tomatoes that can be made meatless

        After watching my friend cook this pasta dish. I realized that I needed to recreate it, but with a California twist. After months of transient living, restaurant food and perhaps a bit much wine have taken their toll on my body, so of late, I’ve been looking for healthier options. My philosophy is not to fear carbs or be overly restrictive (as you’ll see on my Healthy Diplomat page), but to load up on vegetables, fruits, and limit processed foods.

        West Coast cremini and chanterelle mushrooms

        In Northern California, the abundance of fresh, local produce is one of the secrets to the area’s culinary notoriety. Quality ingredients make quality food. So I turned to spaghetti squash from a local farmer’s market to carry its weight with this hearty Roman version of a Bolognese (meat sauce).  

        It is an easy way to lighten a heavier, food-coma inducing dish without sacrificing the experience and texture of al dente pasta. It also is friendly to those on gluten-free, paleo, or low-carb diets. Substitute crumbled seitan or texturized vegetable protein for the meat in the sauce (or double the amount of mushrooms) to make it vegetarian or vegan (without cheese). If you don’t have dietary restrictions, try making it different ways to see which one you prefer!

          
        I used local and almost exclusively organic produce for the entire sauce, including canned San Marzano tomatoes for that “authentic” (a word I generally hate to use in food speak) Italian flavor. Feel free to substitute whatever varieties you can find in your area.

        This dish isn’t at its best without wine (so long as you are of age!). A California Zinfandel’s subtle sweetness and fruitiness are a perfect pairing for this sauce, but I’ve also had it with a bold, jammy Cabernet Sauvignon. Whichever you choose, the wine and dish play together very nicely, only enhancing the flavor of each.

        Start to finish, it can be made in about an hour and fifteen minutes, but simmering the sauce for a few extra hours will deepen the flavors.

        When using pasta, rigatoni is ideal, since its tube shape and ridges carry the sauce easily, though spaghetti or angel hair would be appropriate substitutes. Whole-grain wheat, spelt, or quinoa pasta are wonderful, more nutritious alternatives to “white” pasta.

        Sauce Romanesca over Roasted Spaghetti Squash 'Pasta'

        • Servings: 4
        • Difficulty: Easy
        • Print

        Ingredients:

        • 1 large spaghetti squash OR 8 oz. (typically half of a bag/box) uncooked rigatoni or penne pasta
        • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
        • 3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and pressed or minced
        • 1 large yellow onion, diced
        • 3 cups mushrooms, chopped (cremini and/or a mix of varieties)
        • 1 lb. (about 400 g to 1/2 kg) ground beef (ideally 15% fat) OR 3 cups of crumbled meat substitute
        • 1 cup fresh whole basil leaves, plus additional for garnish
        • 1 28 or 32 oz. can of crushed or diced San Marzano tomatoes
        • 1 tsp. sea salt
        • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
        • Pinch of cayenne or black pepper – to taste
        • Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast), grated

        Directions:

        Squash
        To roast/steam spaghetti squash, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place whole squash in a roasting pan with about 1/4″ water. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove temporarily; cool for 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. 

          
        Using a fork, scrape and remove the loose innards and seeds (usually darker than the bright yellow, edible flesh beneath) and discard. Leave the remaining flesh intact and return to the roasting pan, cut sides up. Brush or drizzle with olive oil. Return the pan to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until inner flesh begins to brown slightly. Remove and cool.

        Sauce
        May be made in advance of spaghetti squash or simultaneously.

        If preparing the sauce and squash simultaneously, begin the sauce after placing the whole squash into the oven for the initial bake.

        In a medium pot or saucepan (ceramic is preferable), heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the crushed garlic. After about a minute, add the chopped onion. Close the lid and allow the onions and garlic to sweat and cook until tender (monitor constantly and stir as needed, especially with a steel or copper-bottomed pot).

        Add meat or meat substitute and brown thoroughly. Roughly chop about 1/2 cup of the basil leaves and add them to the mixture. Next, stir in the mushrooms. Cook while covered, for about five more minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, and peppers, stir continuously for a few minutes. Cover. 

          
        Allow sauce to come to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Add most of the remainder of the basil, reserving some for garnish. If you have time, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

        If using pasta, cook according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cool water, and drain again. Add pasta to sauce and stir to combine.

        If serving with squash instead of pasta, top with sauce during – not before – serving.

        Top with reserved basil and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, or if staying dairy-free or vegan, nutritional yeast.