Chili-Lemon Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables

Chili-Lemon Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables // Queen Smithereen.
I don’t know if it’s my face, my penchant for sparkly temporary tattoos, or the immaturity (arguably: refinement) it requires to appreciate my sense of humor, but goodness–people sure seem to think I am a lot younger than I am. Like, I’ve been asked if I am over the age of 18 four times in the last month. I got carded going into an R-rated movie in 2015. Admittedly a lot can happen in a year–please know that that incident at the movie theater was closer to this most recent New Year than it should have been.

Perhaps at this point you’re wondering how old I am. Old enough to have a Ziggy Stardust-inspired lightning bolt tattoo on my elbow. Old enough to know about Ziggy Stardust. Old enough to joke that my degree and what little it has done for me outside of the honing of my critical thinking skills is really a Bachelor of Farts. Old enough to openly admit I think recreational alcohol-consumption is overrated. Old enough to have accepted that I feel best when I get a good night’s sleep and eat an early dinner. I am 26–and perhaps, in some respects, a little bit boring.
Chili-Lemon Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables // Queen Smithereen.
I don’t know, maybe all this legal age-talk got me to thinking about something I used to eat when I actually was a teenager in college on a budget. I met this kind fellow early on in my time at school because, by chance, I overheard him telling another student that he was from Toronto. “NO, I’M FROM TORONTO!” I butted in (please place zero faith in the idea that my conversational etiquette has improved over the last eight years). Perhaps our Canadian heritage-and the associated penchant for apologizing-led him to more readily forgive my rudeness; we spent the next few years cooking meals, encouraging, and supporting each other through undergrad.

Every time I make this sauce, I think of that friend and our college version of this recipe. Like my sense of humor, the recipe has refined itself over the years–the sauce stems from rich, vibrant San Marzanos; the vegetables are cooked to snappy perfection and scented with fiery chili and bright lemon zest; and the finished product is dressed with spinach, which wilts delicately from the warmth of the dish. But the best part about a recipe that formulates over years is the memory of its origin and how, over time, it completely transformed into a better version of itself. You know, like people sometimes do.

One Year: Matcha Mango Berry Smoothie
Two Years: Banana Berry Lavender Smoothie
Three Years: Cucumber Ciabatta Sandwiches with Spinach and Lemon-Mint Goat Cheese

Chili-Lemon Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables
Serves 6-8

1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4-1/2 tsp chili flakes (as desired
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 head of broccoli, chopped into small, thin florets
zest of one lemon

To serve:
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
additional chili flakes and lemon zest, to taste
Pecorino, Asiago, or Parmesan, as desired.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a square pan, combine tomatoes, olive oil, chili flakes, sea salt, and pepper. Bake until bubbling (about 15-20 minutes), stirring and mashing with a fork halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium-high heat. Add sliced onion and season with sea salt and pepper, stirring onions to coat. Let the onions cook until translucent, redistributing occasionally, 5-8 minutes. Remove onions from saucepan and set aside to cool slightly. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to saucepan and add carrots, stirring to combine. Cook until slightly tenderized, but with good crunch, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli, stirring to combine. Cook until broccoli is bright green, but still crunchy. Add onions back into saucepan, turning the heat to low. Pour in tomato mixture, tossing to combine. Add lemon zest and additional sea salt and pepper, to taste. When ready to serve, add spinach, with additional chili flakes and lemon zest, if desired. Sauce can be eaten as is, with cheese, or can be served atop your favorite pasta.



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