Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tomato Sauce

A little background before I tell you all about my homemade tomato sauce...

   Throughout elementary school, I was home schooled by my Mom. I didn't just have a semester or class of Home Ec., I was learning it all the time. My Mom taught me how to cross-stitch, sew, cook, and bake all at a young age. I remember making lunches for myself and my four siblings before I was 7 years old! I also remember the first dinner I made for my family all on my own - Italian meatballs from scratch with a box of spaghetti and a jar of sauce. I was so proud of those meatballs.

Apple picking circa 1993/'94.

I remember gardening a variety of vegetables in the summers, picking apples every fall, then participating in a whole day of canning - mostly tomatoes and applesauce. Now I wish I could remember how to do it, but all I can remember is a giant pot full of steaming hot water and trying not to get splashed as I placed jars in and pulled them out with a regular pair of tongs.

The season for apple picking and canning is just about finished for the year, but now is a great time for some delicious homemade sauce! (Maybe you've got the tomatoes already canned for just that.)

My favorite jarred tomato sauce to buy is Ragú® Chunky Garden Combination, so I decided to make my own version.
I had some fresh garden tomatoes from a co-worker, but I bought the rest of the veggies from my local Wegmans. I just picked my favorites to roast together - peppers, sweet onions, carrots and zucchini (I've also used asparagus tips and eggplant). I like to small dice everything so it's not a super chunky sauce. Drizzle with Wegmans' Basting Oil, or just oil and seasoning, and they are ready to roast. Since they take about 40-50 minutes to roast (at 400° F), I did this first and then started the sauce.
Ok, I guess I remember a little more from canning - stewing the tomatoes. To start the sauce, plop the whole tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds, once you pull them back out the skin almost slides right off; of course they are really hot, so be careful!
I then took a hand masher and mashed the peeled tomatoes in a new pot, added canned tomato paste and brought it to a simmer, mashing occasionally. After a while, I had a fairly smooth sauce, and was able to spoon out the cores of the tomatoes that wouldn't mash.
I continued to let it simmer while adding my favorite seasonings to taste.
Once the veggies were done roasting, I stirred them into the pot of sauce. I kept it warm on a low burner a while longer to let the flavors of the veggies soak in until I had a delicious sauce!
Can't you almost smell the sauce?

I ended up freezing some of it in small containers (like I said I don't remember how to can; maybe I should learn how...). Then I could thaw just what I'd need for a dinner.
My favorite pairing: some sweet Italian sausage, crumbled, with bowtie or angel hair pasta. Yummy, warm, comfort food.

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