Even as the harvest season winds down I have an abundance of fresh vegetables that I would like to preserve for the coming months when the garden production has slowed. For my convenience, I prefer to have as much of my preserved bounty in complete, meal-ready form. For tomatoes, that means spaghetti sauce. This recipe is very versatile, in that it can accommodate other fresh produce you might find this time of year in your garden, at your local farmer’s market or in the grocery store. Follow it as is or use it as a jumping off point to turn the vegetables you have into a delicious sauce you can enjoy immediately or freeze for later for those times when you want the taste of summer but the fresh tomatoes in the store are looking anemic and uninspiring.
Notes: This recipe is pretty simple, avoiding both the use of a food mill and the need to pre-peel the tomatoes in a separate (and annoying) process). In the final stage, simply blend all veggies together with an immersion blender(a fine kitchen tool indeed), creating a smooth sauce, skins and all.
Time: 2 ½ hours. 30 minutes hands-on, plus 2 hours cooking time
Yield: ~2 qts
5 lbs fresh tomatoes
1 onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, halved
1 lb zucchini, cut into ½” slices lengthwise
4T olive oil
1t oregano, dried (or 1T fresh)
½ t thyme, dried (or 1t fresh)
4 small sprigs of basil
½ can tomato paste
½ c wine (optional)
Additional options: substitute or add carrots, eggplant, and summer squash for zucchini prepared in same manner
1. Wash approximately 5 lbs fresh tomatoes, cut out the stems, halve and put in a large roasting pan cut side down. Add onion, garlic, and zucchini. Drizzle olive oil and rub herbs over top. Stir to combine.
3. Pour roasted vegetables and all liquid into a large saucepan. Add tomato paste, wine and basil. Simmer 1 hour.
4. Remove basil stems and puree with an immersion blender (or in traditional blender in batches). Continue cooking at a low simmer until desired consistency is reached. Timing will vary depending on the variety of tomatoes and their water content.
5. Adjust salt if desired. Eat immediately or cool to enjoy later. Refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to 6 months.
*For best quality results when freezing, cool on the counter to room temperature, then refrigerate. Freeze once chilled completely in the fridge. You can freeze in plastic freezer bags or freezer safe wide-mouth canning jars (pint size, but not quart).