Monday, August 6, 2012

Garden + Recipe: Marinara Sauce from Scratch

This is probably the last large harvest of the season. Picking tomatoes is back-breaking work! Props to all the tomato (and other vegetable/fruit) pickers out there.

I would say 80% of the tomatoes on this harvest were perfect-skinned, meaning no splits, holes, or any other blemishes. Perhaps all of the caterpillars and other bugs that were eating them before have transformed (into moths or butterflies) or died off.

I used up all of the tomatoes from the last huge harvest to make spaghetti meat sauce (with ground beef and sliced hot dogs, yummy...), so it's time for another batch of marinara sauce. I might then use the sauce to make stuffed bell peppers with meatloaf or burrito meat, and also skillet chicken parmesan. Other possibilities for the tomatoes: chocolate chili, salsa, and/or a simple BLT salad.

For the eggplant, I'm planning to make a Filipino eggplant torta -- I'll post pictures and explain the recipe if I get around to it. (Ahhhh, so hungry now!) In the meantime, here's the marinara recipe that I use.

Marinara Sauce
Makes about 1 quart
(from Lidia Bastianich's Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen cookbook)

  • 1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 lbs ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded*
    OR one 35-oz can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid
  • Salt
  • Crushed hot red pepper
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces


Heat the oil in a 2- to 3-quart nonreactive saucepan (like stainless steel) over medium heat. Whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife, add it to the oil, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Carefully slide the tomatoes and their liquid into the oil. Bring to a boil and season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer and cook, breaking up the tomatoes with a whisk or spoon, until the sauce is chunky and thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil about 5 minutes before the sauce is finished. Taste the sauce and season with salt and red pepper if necessary.

GLADYS'S NOTES: I actually purée the sauce in my blender once it's done because my guys don't like chunky tomatoes. :-) Also, don't be scared how much salt you end up putting in; just taste it every so often while it's cooking. One last thing is you can use dried Italian herbs if you don't have fresh basil on hand.

* If you want instructions on how to peel and seed fresh tomatoes, here they are:

Peeling and Seeding Tomatoes
  1. Put a big pot of water to boil. In the meantime, prepare the tomatoes by cleaning them, coring them (like strawberries), and slicing a shallow X on the bottoms.
  2. Also prepare a big bowl of ice water -- with lots of ice.
  3. Once the water is boiling, carefully put the tomatoes in there and boil for 1-2 minutes. Then fish them out with a slotted spoon and drop them the bowl of ice water.
  4. After a few minutes in the ice water, the tomatoes should be easy to peel.
  5. Once peeled, slice or even tear them in half, and gently squeeze out the seeds over a strainer that is set in a big bowl. This will ensure that you keep the liquid as well.
Once peeled and seeded, the tomatoes are now ready for the marinara recipe. Enjoy!

xo, Gladys


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