We have large tomato plants right now but no tomatoes yet. Here's hoping we get enough summer to set some decent fruit. My eldest has been requesting spaghetti lately, and while I don't mind store bought sauce and can still find brands that are okay on ingredients for her, we never actually use up a whole jar. It sits in the fridge until it molds, waiting hopefully for me to find something in which to use it up. Yeah, that not being a good planner thing I keep suffering. But I almost always have canned tomatoes on hand and right now the herb garden is in full bloom. ☺ So I have been making a nice tomato sauce that feeds about four adults or leaves just a little leftover if you have smaller kids. I think this is the one I will stick with because it is easy, tasty and versatile. And personally, I think it tastes better than store bought. I think I will use the extra ½ cup from tonight's batch for pizza sauce this week. That's a rare treat for us!
Oh! My new favorite way to mince and chop - the blender method. Well, Vitamix method, but I think a blender would mince as well, just not chop. (I finally broke down and got one for Mother's day after years and years of talking myself out of one.) You whirl the ingredients in water in the Vitamix and after draining through a sieve you are left with perfect mince, or chop if you have the low speed of the Vitamix.
If you are fortunate enough to have lots of tomatoes in the garden, a long, low simmer will temper the acidity of the fresh produce.
Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce
makes about 2½ - 2¾ cups
2 tbsp olive oil (garlic infused if you can get it)
½ large onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, minced
1 small stalk of celery, well minced
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
pinch of fennel seeds (or two - depends on your taste and the size of the pinch)
2-3 tbsp water
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes including juice (or 1¾ lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped if you are blessed with a garden tomato bounty)
1 teaspoon tomato paste (the double concentrated in the tube is the best if you can get it)
2 dashes of tabasco
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced carrot, celery and parsley, fennel seed and the chopped onion. Stir for a couple minutes, then add a few tablespoons of water and reduce heat to medium low. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are softened and cooked through. Add the minced garlic and increase heat to medium high. Add the tomatoes, undrained, and the tomato paste, basil and tabasco. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until thickened, about 15 minutes. At this point, you have a choice: if you like really chunky tomato sauce, you can leave it as it and serve over whatever pasta you choose or however you like.
Or, you can push the sauce through a food mill or blend it with an immersion blender to give it a smooth consistency. A regular blender would work too, just be careful with the hot sauce.
Personally, I like to take about 2/3 of the sauce and puree it with the immersion blender, then mix it back in for just a mildly chunky sauce. Very homemade consistency. Then you can just let the sauce simmer and mellow as you boil up some pasta and meatballs or sausage. We cooked up a really good local italian sausage to go with our sauce tonight. Hopefully you have a cleaner stove than mine. But hey, what's the name of the blog?
This post will participate in Monday Mania at Healthy Home Economist
Adapted from http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/basic_tomato_sauce