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Friday, June 19, 2009

Good Fast Food: Creamy Tomato Sauce

A simple piece of protein — meat, game, fish, tofu, or poultry—browned and then finished in a sauce on the stovetop (or in the oven) and served with rice makes a quick, healthy meal for harried weekdays.

Recently, we made an amazingly fast and flavorful creamy tomato sauce that let us pull together dinner in the time it took to cook rice. It's roughly based on a British version of the Indian sauce called tikka masala, but it's not hot, and it goes with just about everything.

1. Heat two tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil. Brown a pound to a pound and a half of protein, along with four minced garlic cloves and half a cup of chopped onion. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside, reserving cooking juices.

2. In a food processor, combine a 14-ounce can of tomatoes, a heaping teaspoon of tomato paste, a very generous handful of cilantro leaves, the juice of half a lime, a half-teaspoon of sugar, a scant tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger, a teaspoon of ground cumin, and a teaspoon of ground coriander. Pulse to smooth consistency.

3. Start the rice.

4. In a saucepan, melt three tablespoons of unsalted butter. Add the tomato mixture and a half-cup of cream. Bring to a simmer, then add the protein and juices from the other pan. Simmer until the protein is cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve with the rice and a crisp green salad. Serves four. Add a side vegetable if you're serving a particularly hungry crew.

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