I love AM Northwest. What started as me popping on to make some quick quinoa snacks has turned into a regular gig – and, yes, it’s pretty fun.
Today I stopped in to show Dave a great way to use up the masses of tomatoes that are bursting from gardens right now. There are tomatoes of every variety, color, size and shape. (Thanks to my friends Holly and Becky that have a phenomenal garden, I know this.) And, you know what? I discovered that when you put them all together in a great big pot and stew them down, the varieties blend together into a tomato sauce that is pure perfection.
Until this year I have never taken the time to make my own tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes because the process always seemed so daunting. Most tutorials instruct to seed them and blanch them to remove the skins. Ugh. Let’s be honest: just the word ‘blanch’ screams of hours in the kitchen, to which this mama says, ‘no thanks’.
But with tomatoes spilling out of my ears, I got bold and I flat out rebelled from the ‘right way’ to do things. I washed, I roughly chopped, and squeezed out seeds as I went (and had no concern from the hangers on). That’s it.
Every tomato color and variety I had at my fingertips went into the pot. Again, rebelling from the instruction to ‘add salt and water’ to help the process, I added nothing. NOTHING. No water; no salt; no broth. I turned those simple tomatoes on high, brought the batch to a boil, and waited until it was all nice and mushy, which took about 30 minutes.
After turning off the heat, I took the greatest kitchen gadget I’ve discovered this year and blended the mix into a pure, smooth sauce. (I figured if my tool worked for smoothies, it’d work for liquifying the skins I didn’t care to remove.) The result? A sauce that was gorgeous, delicious, fresh.
So, then the question is: once I stewed down all my tomatoes, what did I do with all the sauce?
I made up a big batch of basic marinara! And believe me: it is EASY. Seriously. No matter how many tomatoes you’re dealing with, you simply double or triple the recipe below based on the proportion of sauce you end up… and you can freeze the marinara in quart sized freezer bags (or snapware containers, which is what I use) for those nights you’re in a pinch for dinner.
(I must give credit where credit is due, and this recipe is based on a recipe from my favorite Italian priest in the world, Father Bruno… but, I admit, I doctored it up a little by adding fresh basil and anchovies.)
Anyway, here goes:
- 1/4 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- 1/2 cup finely diced carrots
- 1/2 cup finely diced celery
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 3-4 anchovy fillets, smashed with the back of a fork
- 4 large cloves of garlic, diced and smashed
- 1 tsp good quality salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 5 cups fresh tomato sauce
- a handful of fresh basil
- Add 1/4 cup olive oil to large hot fry pan.
- Sauté carrots, celery and onion until tender (approx 3 minutes), stirring occasionally so they don’t stick.
- Add the mashed anchovy fillets and the garlic. Sauté for about a minute; stir constantly to break up the fillets and to prevent the garlic from burning. (You can add another TBS of EVOO if needed.)
- To the sauté, add 5 cups fresh tomato sauce and stir throughly. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Before serving, stir a handful of roughly chopped fresh basil into the marinara; toss with your favorite pasta and top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
And hey – come back and let me know if you put YOUR tomatoes to use… and whether you were able to get your kids involved in this fun cooking project.
PS. If you freeze some of the plain tomato sauce (instead of making it into a marinara), it will make a great starter for tomato soup when the days turn colder.
I plan on pulling out some of my plain frozen sauce sometime towards the end of October for a Tomato Basil Bisque soup… so, plan ahead! Keep some on hand and we can make it together!