Freezer Pasta Sauce: Enjoy It’s Fresh Taste All Winter Long!
As many of you no doubt know by now, I love my vegetable garden. And, out of all of my green offspring, I have to admit that I do indeed have favorite children – oh the shame!
My glorious tomatoes are the apple of my eye. (Shh! Don’t tell the yellow squash and the red peppers. They’ll turn green with envy!)
Our garden production is winding down now. Frankly, the only things that are still pumping out produce are our two cherry tomato plants. And the fruit they’re bearing is delicious; it’s sweet and has a tender snap to it that you simply won’t find with store-bought offerings.
Some summers are complete bummers in terms of tomato production. Either it’s too cold, too wet, or both. This year, however, was tomato utopia. We had a bumper crop!
Take a look.
The photo above is about 1/4 of all of the tomatoes we harvested. The plants started producing slowly, but once they got going we would turn around and find that bushels were ready and waiting to picked and put to use.
After I took the shot above, I left the kitchen for a moment and when I came back, I was greeted by Spencer’s handiwork on the one and only tomato that had sprouted a nose.
The mind of an impish thirteen-year-old at work.
I’m calling my newly found friend, Tom.
I mentioned a few days ago that I made quite a few tomato-based dishes this summer ranging from salsa, to tapenade to soups and salads. One of my favorite ways to make good use of our tomatoes, though, is to cook up a huge batch of homemade pasta sauce. Sometimes I bottle it when it’s done, other times, when I’m feeling lazy and have adequate space in my downstairs freezer, I simply ladle cooled-down sauce into freezer-ready quart containers labeled with the date I made it, and then pull a container out when I need it throughout the winter.
Over the years, I’ve test-driven many pasta sauce recipes – some with success, others not. The recipe I’m sharing today is wonderful on its own, however, given my overflowing garden and my career as a vegetable-pusher, I added zucchini (of course), and sautéed mushrooms. Neither of which were noticed by my crew. Oh, and a can of tomato paste and a pound and a half of sautéed ground beef.
And while it sounds like an odd ingredient, don’t skip the sugar. It helps to cut the acidity.
I also peeled the tomatoes first because who wants tough skin in a sauce? Not I.
Peeling the skin is a relatively easy process.
Cut an “X” into the bottom of each tomato.
Submerge them for 30 seconds in boiling water.
Do you see the skin beginning to curl up? That means it’s time to take them out, rinse them in cold water, and peel the skin right off.
This is a delicious base recipe, but take your time with it, and modify it as you see fit: taste it, and then add a little more salt, pepper, herbs – whatever you desire. Listen to your tongue.
Here’s how you go about making it.
Recipe courtesy of: allrecipes.com
4 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
16 cups chopped tomatoes (Wowza!)
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1, 6 oz. can tomato paste
As I mentioned, I also added a can of tomato paste to thicken it up a bit, a pound and a half of sautéed ground beef due to the carnivores I’m responsible for feeding, two cups of chopped zucchini, and a pint of chopped mushrooms – Shh!
* In a slow cooker, saute together the onion, garlic, green pepper, and vegetable oil. Cook until onion is transparent.
(Ever the rebel, I did not use a slow cooker since all of the intermittent stirring required, to my way of thinking, negates the “set it and forget it” advantage of using one. I simply followed the same steps using an extra-large pot on the stove.)
* Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, parsley, sugar, salt and ground black pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 hours on low heat. Stir frequently. This is also the stage where you’d add whatever supplements you’d like to: sautéed beef, zucchini, mushrooms, whatever floats your boat.
* Let sauce cool. Pour sauce into quart size freezer containers. Store in freezer.
And here’s a photo journal of the sauce, culminating in end result. YUM!
What do you think? Will you attempt to make your own sauce? A farmer’s market near you sure hopes so since they’ve got juicy ripe tomatoes set aside with your name on them.
Click here for more on my tomato love: You Say Tomato, But Does Anyone Really Say Tomahto?