One of the things we love to cook is pasta sauce. We are ALWAYS trying a new marinara or meaty sauce. Giada De Laurentiis has a Marinara Sauce Little Chef A wanted to try. The first task was to prepare all the vegetables. There is a lot of fine dicing to be done; carrots, celery and onions. I have found fine dicing to be very hard for even my oldest Little Chef. Instead of me wincing with each cut I thought we could use the chopper. I demonstrated how to cut the carrot lengthwise then crosswise to make a dice. I reassured her that the chopper will make her cuts even smaller so she did not need to worry so much about perfect cuts. Carrots are pretty hard therefore hard to cut through!
After roughly dicing most of the carrots I realized we forgot to peel them. “Oh well” said Little Chef A, “my friend Sam eats the outside all the time.” Roughly dicing the celery was next. “Celery is a bit harder then carrots because it can break apart easily so it can get in crazy directions” said Little Chef A. When the celery was small she said I think maybe I need to do one at a time [instead of all four cut ribs together]. She was very smart in this choice. Cutting one at a time gives her more control and is more safe.
It was time to use the hand chopper. After hitting lever many times and observing the action she said, “I could use a hammer to do this.” She likes to be reassured about the size of her cuts. I want her to start taking ownership of the small details since she is doing very well with the basics. I told her however small you want to make the vegetables is fine, it is your choice. First was the carrots. Once those were set aside the celery was next. With the orange and green colors mixing Little Chef A said, “It looks like fun, like a carrot patch,” as she is eating the little bits. “It looks like it is a salad with tiny carrots and celery to make a masterpiece.” I loved having Little Chef A use the chopper. It was much safer and easier to finely dice the carrots, celery and onions.
We thought it would be fun to make a short video on how to use the hand held chopper. I instructed Little Chef A to give her name and show how it works. We did NOT practice. This was her first and only cut of the video!
Little Chef A LOVES the smell of garlic! She reminded me of that when she added onions, garlic and olive oil to a pan to saute. Immediately after adding all the onions Little Chef A said, “My eyes feel so watery.” I could tell they felt very different to her. This was her first exposure to a pungent onion!
The vegetables were added next until soft. Afterward the tomatoes and bay leaves were added and left to simmer.
After an hour Little Chef A thought it tasted very well. I asked if she wanted to change it in any way. She said, “I like it because it is thick and it does not run into your other food.” In our house there are some of us who do not like food touching! But, we thought it would be fun to make a few additions to make the recipe her own. Little Chef A added 1/2 Tablespoon and 1/8 tsp dried basil. She then blended it all together to make the sauce
a little smoother.
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)