I write this post on the long evening of the summer solstice. We endured some time amongst the mosquitoes, enjoying the sunset and cleaning up cured onions. Our bellies were full of sausage and pepper calzone with fresh, fresh spaghetti sauce that had simmered all afternoon.
Whether I have the time for raw tomato processing or just enough time for canned, making sauce is really a joy. And, to mention it, incredibly easy. On our second anniversary, TD surprised me with a Le Crueset dutch oven in that beautiful ‘Nectar’ yellow color. I was giddy, for the immediate use and also to own such an heirloom quality piece to keep in the family. It’s one of the little things, to see that bright yellow pot simmering with deep red goodness…
Sigh, I know. Sauce is so simple… But it can be DELICIOUS, and healthy, and fresh, and a time saver. Three quarts went from stovetop to the freezer as meal prep for this baby’s arrival. But let’s talk sauce….
Fresh Tomato Spaghetti Sauce
Transforming raw, garden fresh tomatoes is the creme de la creme. We aim to grow many many paste tomatoes (IE. “Amish Paste”, “San Marzano”, “Martino’s Roma”) as possible – for sauce. The process is semi long, but it is a mindless task great for pairing with a podcast or inviting in a child. In fact, that child will probably enjoy the seed squirting much more than you…
How to Process Raw Tomatoes for Sauce?
- Wash your tomatoes and core out where the stem was attached. Cut an “X” on the opposite end. This will help with the peeling process. Meanwhile, start a pot of water boiling.
- While your water boils, fill a separate bowl full of ice water – more ice than water. Place 5-10 tomatoes into the boiling water for around 30 seconds, then submerge in the ice water.
- Once the tomato is cool enough to handle, peel the skins and remove the seeds. You can simply squeeze the softened tomato to remove seeds, or cut in half and scoop with a spoon. Seeds aren’t too much of a problem, but much tastier without.
- Add the tomato flesh to a blender and puree till smooth. You are ready to start saucin’!
Sourcing Canned Tomatoes
Fresh is best, but unless you are a much more proficient canner than I am, canned tomato sauce is what my yellow pot is serving midwinter. Ideally, I do my best to save tomato puree in the freezer to last us as long as possible, but we make a lot of pizza.
I know enough about modern food systems to just have wariness with buying canned goods from the grocery store these days… I cannot be a snob, but I do try to spend extra on these products when I do need canned items. This way, I am giving myself a leg up when it comes to preservatives, salt content, unlabeled content and how those tomatoes were grown. My local grocery will keep salt free, organic whole peeled tomatoes in 28 oz. cans. Salt free let’s me control the salt levels. Organic controls the growing conditions of the tomatoes. Whole peeled tomatoes are the most limited in processing which require the least amount of ingredients for preservation. When building my occasional Thrive Market order, I’ll throw in a jar or two of Jovial tomatoes with a few boxes of their pasta.
Spaghetti Sauce Ingredients
2 medium onions
8 cloves of garlic
1/2 grated carrot
1/4 cup of olive oil
56 oz pureed tomatoes
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 TB dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 TB of honey
1/2 raw carrot, whole
Method for Saucin’
We’ve talked about processing your fresh tomatoes, so from here out, the cooking of sauce is the same for fresh or canned tomatoes!
- In a large pot, add olive oil with chopped onion, grated carrot and minced garlic. Let sauté until fragrant and onions are translucent.
- Add 56 oz. of tomatoes to the pot, as well as tomato paste, herbs and honey.
- Allow the mixture to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the remaining whole carrot and allow to simmer for an additional 15 minutes, or up to all afternoon (4 hours on low). You will notice the sauce change to a thicker, redder mixture. If your sauce gets too thick, thin with water or chicken broth.
- For chunky sauce, you’re done! For smooth sauce, place your mixture in a blender.
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a year.
A Tomato Summer
The heat has arrived here in the south, and the abundance of tomatoes are soon to follow. Whether you have a pot on your balcony, or a thousand square foot garden, they will be the taste of the summer. For another use of summer tomatoes, check out our recipe, “Spice Up Spring with Family Favorite Red Salsa“.
Looking for some pasta sauce pairing? Here are some of our favorites:
- Calzone: simple pizza crust, a good dose of sauce and all your favorite fillings! Try halved meatballs, or grilled peppers and onions with hot Italian sausage.
- “Tagliatelle with Tomatoes & Greens”: a beautiful recipe by Love & Lemons featuring the tomato, carrots and balsamic. We sub tomatoes for a few tablespoons of homemade sauce!
- Creamy Spinach Pasta: garlic in olive oil, with a cup of milk, cup of shredded parmesean and half a cup of pasta water. This light cream sauce pairs great with any meat and veggie, topped with splashes of lemon juice. Don’t forget the spinach!