If you’re like me, you have no tomatoes – none – nada – zero tomatoes left; and your garden is nearing the end of it’s productive period, for this year. That always makes me a little sad. The idea that I will have to wait a whole year for truly flavorful, juicy and scrumptious tomatoes and veggies, seems almost too much to bear! Especially when presented with the glory of these wonderful sights, when I visited Seattle for the IFBC (International Food Blogger’s Conference), last weekend. It was torture not to be able to gather up armloads and bring them home. It just wouldn’t have been practical to try and fly with them, though. 🙁 I visited Pikes Place Market and was overcome with the beauty and splendor of a multi-story, blocks-long, open-air Farmer’s Market. So cool! It would take way too much space to show you all my pictures, but I will straggle them out, bit by bit over the next few weeks.
Alas, here, in southeast Nebraska, the time has come to compost the remains and dream of next year’s gardening marvels. There are still a few of you with some tomatoes making a “last stand”, though, and I don’t want you to miss out on any of that scrumptious, fresh-garden flavor! You can whip up this delicious pasta sauce, in no time, and your family will absolutely love it! (On a side note and just as an FYI, I also learned this weekend, that you can uproot your remaining tomato plants, still loaded with green tomatoes and hang them upside down from the rafters, in your basement. In a week or two, the tomatoes will have ripened, as usual, and you won’t have wasted an ounce of garden goodness. How’s that for a fantastic garden tip!!??! I was so excited when I heard it, I couldn’t wait to come back and share with you.) Ok, let’s make fabulously simple and flavorful pasta sauce. It’s SOOOO good!
Start with fresh, beautiful ingredients! Gather them all together, to save time and energy as you cook. Do all your peeling, chopping and measuring ahead of time. It’s called Mise en place, which means “to put in place”. Every recipe and dish will go together more quickly and smoothly if you don’t have to run around the kitchen hunting for things. It’s a good habit to get into. 🙂
Peeling tomatoes is as simple as dunking them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. The skin will begin to blister and pop. Then plunge them into icy cold water, to stop the cooking. The skin will simply slide right off with hardly any coaxing from you. It’s the easiest and quickest method I know for peeling tomatoes. In my stock pot I can usually do 5 -7 at once, depending on the size of the tomatoes. Once you have them peeled, simply quarter them and put them back into the stockpot.
Now, add the salt, lemon juice, chopped onion and herbs. Mix everything together, mashing the tomatoes, slightly, to begin releasing some of their liquid. They will get softer as they cook down, so don’t expend too much energy on it. You only need a small amount of juice in the bottom of the pan, to get started.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. At that point, your tomatoes should be starting to get very soft and break down a little. Give everything a good stir. Then carefully add the tomatoes and liquid to the pitcher of your blender. Cover the top of the blender with a folded tea towel to protect yourself from burns and your walls from splatters. Puree the mixture until smooth. If your blender is small, you may need to do this in two batches to be safe. Don’t fill the blender pitcher over half full.
Once your puree is nice and smooth, pour it back into the stock pot and continue simmering over low heat for 30-45 minutes, until more of the liquid has evaporated off and your sauce has reached your preferred thickness. The length of time will really depend on how juicy your tomatoes were and the way your range heats, so start checking at about the 30 minute mark and work from there. Stir the sauce occasionally to prevent scorching.
When it’s finished you can use it in your favorite Italian recipes, over pasta over even some delicious Chicken Parmesan! (If I’m not going to be using the whole batch, I store it in the fridge, for up to a week. Otherwise, it freezes, well, too. Enjoy!
- 4 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled and quartered
- ½ medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon dehydrated organic garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried organic basil
- 1 teaspoon dried organic oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried organic parsley
- 1 teaspoon high-quality sea salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Peel and quarter the tomatoes. (To quickly and easily peel tomatoes, drop whole tomatoes in a pot of rapidly boiling water. Count 30 seconds or until skins on the tomatoes begin to pop open. Strain tomatoes out of the water and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. Skins will slide right off the tomatoes.)
- Place quartered tomatoes into a large stock pot and add all remaining ingredients.
- Stir to combine, mashing the tomatoes slightly as you stir.
- Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once mixture is boiling, reduce temperature to medium and allow tomatoes and herbs to cook down, stirring, occasionally, for 30 minutes.
- More and more juice will be released from the tomatoes and begin to evaporate away. At the end of 30 minutes the tomatoes will have begun to break down and there will be quite a bit of liquid in the pot. Add the tomatoes and liquid (You may need to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your blender.) to your blender pitcher.
- Place the lid on the blender and cover lid with a folded tea towel, in case any of the hot mixture comes out while blending.
- Puree the tomatoes, veggies and liquid.
- When the mixture is smooth, return it to the stock pot and simmer for additional 30 - 45 minutes or until the desired thickness has been reached. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
- Serve over pasta or in any of your favorite Italian dishes.
- I often store this in the fridge in a canning jar and use just what I need. It will keep well, tightly covered for a week or so, in the fridge.
You could also follow instructions for your altitude and can this sauce. It will freeze well, too.