Friday, January 16, 2015

Sun-dried Tomatoes Take Alfredo Sauce to a New Height in Flavor.

Sun-dried tomatoes are just as the name sounds; Roma tomatoes (the best for this process) are cut 1/4 inch thin, laid out in the sun and dried to remove all moisture content.  The flavor of the tomato itself is now highly concentrated; they can be stored in an air tight plastic bag, or preserved in oil.  Now preserving in oil causes the dried tomatoes to absorb that oil of course, so use them only if you intend on adding oil to your recipe.  The dried tomatoes stored in a bag can be reconstituted by pouring hot water till they are covered; let sit for a half hour.  Don't throw away that water!  It's now full of flavor and can be used, for example, an addition to your pasta water; flavoring your dough when making focaccia, rolls or bread.

Since the Alfredo sauce will not be strictly a cream sauce (addition of diced sun-dried tomatoes), throw in a couple of tablespoons of diced green or red bell peppers for added color and texture.  Alfredo sauce begins with a basic recipe for Béchamel (white sauce); it's the addition of Parmesan cheese that creates Alfredo.

Basic Béchamel Recipe

5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups hot milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted; gradually add the flour, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a golden brown color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time; whisk continuously to avoid burning or clumping. When mixture is completely smooth, remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg; set aside until ready to use.

Makes 3 cups.

For the Alfredo sauce, once the mixture is smooth, add one cup of grated Parmesan cheese and continue to whisk until smooth; add the salt and nutmeg as directed.

For the Sun-dried Alfredo sauce, after the butter has melted, add 1/4 cup of diced, reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes plus a teaspoon of minced garlic.  Once they begin to sizzle in the butter, then continue the rest of the sauce making process.  Add in two tablespoons of diced green or red bell peppers, if desired, after the sauce is finished.

Sun-dried Afredo Sauce with diced green bell peppers added.

Cheese Tortelloni; garnished with parsley.

Italian Sausage added.

Mary Cokenour

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