Solar Pasta Sauce with Beef Short Ribs

I got the idea for this sauce from my favorite local Italian restaurant, Franco Trattoria in Whittier. It’s a lot less labor intensive than regular bolognese and just as tasty. Like any good meat sauce it needs to simmer for at least three hours and only gets better if it cooks even longer.

Slow Simmered Sun Oven Tomato Sauce with Short Ribs


1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 boneless beef short ribs (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

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Solar Sugo all’Arrabbiata

This traditional pasta sauce is popular in Rome. It’s called arrabbiata (angry) because it’s hot and spicy. Increase or decrease the amount of red pepper flakes according to how “angry” you like it.

Covering the pot with a tea towel and the lid set ajar is a technique I came up with to keep sauces from coming out watery. The towel absorbs the excess moisture and keeps the cooking chamber condensation free.

Sun Oven Arrabbiata Sauce


1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 ounces pancetta, chopped

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Solar Smothered Onions

On days when I’ve got nothing else going on in my Sun Oven, I like to make a big batch of smothered onions. Just slice up as many onions as your pot can hold. Put them in the pot. Add olive oil, about 1 tablespoon per pound, and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat, cover, and cook them in the Sun Oven.

The longer they cook the better they’ll taste. They can be used in soups, as a topping for flat breads, as a pasta sauce, or served as a side dish. Season them with salt and pepper and fresh or dry herbs. Store them in the fridge in an airtight container (before adding any seasonings) for up to three days.

They’ll make your weeknight meals taste like you spent hours slaving over a hot stove when in reality you were out running errands while the Sun Oven did all the work.

Sun Oven Smothered Onion Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

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Italian Tomato Sauce

This classic Italian tomato sauce will appeal even to the pickiest of eaters. Try it with a pat of butter on each serving. That’s how they eat it in Italy.


3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

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Solar Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce is easy to make in the Sun Oven. The trick is to allow some of the moisture to escape from the pot without letting condensation build up in the cooking chamber. I’ve found that putting a tea towel over the pot and setting the lid slightly ajar does the trick. I usually make the sauce in the early afternoon while the sun’s shining and cook the pasta on the stove at dinner time.

Sun Oven Pasta Sauce with Black Olives


1/4 cup olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices, coarsely chopped

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Pasta and Meatballs All in One Pot

I’d be the first to admit that pasta, with the exception of baked pasta dishes such as lasagna or macaroni and cheese, is better when cooked the traditional way; in a large pot of rapidly boiling water. However, it is possible to make decent pasta in the Sun Oven. I’d just say it’s something I’d save for emergency situations, camping, or when I need something to blog about.

One Pot Sun Oven Pasta and Meatballs


2 cups pasta, cavatappi or fusilli

1 tablespoon olive oil

2/3 cup water

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Weeknight Dinner from Solar Leftovers

It’s still cloudy here in southern California today but tonight’s ragù was made with leftovers from the solar braised ribs I blogged about yesterday. Paired with a salad and a good glass of wine it makes a great weeknight dinner. Make sure to set aside 1 cup of the onions and 1 cup of the sauce from the ribs to make this sauce. It’s more than enough for a pound of rigatoni.

Rigatoni with Beef Ragù


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup cooked onions leftover from braised chuck ribs


1/2 cup dry red wine

1 (14 ounce can) strained tomatoes

5 ounces leftover braised chuck ribs, shredded

1 cup leftover sauce from chuck ribs

2 tablespoons butter

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

1 pound rigatoni prepared according to the instructions on the package


Heat the oil and the garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the tomato paste. Stir in the cooked onions and the wine and cook until the wine evaporates. Stir in the tomatoes, the shredded meat, and the leftover sauce. Simmer until thickened, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Toss the sauce with the butter and rigatoni. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve immediately.




First New Solar Recipe from California – It’s a Keeper!

With our new hectic schedules I’m finding new ways to use my Sun Oven. I’m keeping a close eye on the weather forecast and trying to get as much solar cooking done on sunny days as I can. I’m concentrating on things that can be used to put together for weeknight dinners and for packed lunches. Over the weekend I solar roasted a big batch of beets. I knew they’d come in handy for salads and such but tonight’s pasta may be my all time favorite beet recipe. I found it on and even if the beets are the only part cooked in the Sun Oven it definitely deserves to be included on this blog.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Solar Roasted Beets, Brown Butter, and Poppy Seeds


1 pound beets, scrubbed clean

1/4 cup water

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

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If At First You Don’t Succeed…

As good as last Sunday’s pasta was, I still prefer that particular dish when it’s prepared the traditional way, so I spent the next few days searching for recipes that used similar ingredients but were more adaptable to solar cooking. I found one on, Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Torta, that consisted of layers of crespelle (an Italian version of  crepes), bechamel sauce, rapini, and sausage.

The crespelle were way too much work and I didn’t like the idea of a butter based sauce (bechamel) combined with the other ingredients. I decided to make up something of my own. I used no-boil, whole-wheat lasagna noodles and made an olive oil based bechamel.

I think I’m on the right track, but as you can see in the picture I was a little short on sauce. The top noodles were too dry and I had to throw them away.

Once I get the quantities right this will probably be put on our dinner rotation. It makes a satisfying one dish meal and the leftovers are good for an easy to reheat lunch. And, of course, when I have those quantities I’ll post the recipe here.

Solar Pasta for Lunch

Pasta with rapini is a common southern Italian dish. I adapted this recipe for the Sun Oven from one I found on where the pasta was cooked along with the vegetables risotto style. I don’t often make pasta in the Sun Oven (with the exception of lasagna or other baked pasta dishes) for a variety of reasons. But every now and then I like to give it a try.

Solar Pasta with Rapini


1 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)

1 tablespoon olive oil

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