Monday, August 31, 2015

Sauce from the Garden

As everyone knows, there's just nothing better than fresh veggies and herbs picked from a backyard garden just moments before you eat them. Each year, for the last 3 years, my wife and I have planted a garden.

We don't have a lot of space, and our garden is small, so we have to be judicious about what, and how much we plant, and each year we've planted something different than the year before, with two exceptions; tomatoes, and basil.
Planting tomatoes is a must for us. Eating sandwiches with slices of freshly picked, vine ripened tomatoes is one of life's little joys. But, when the plants are at their peak, the tomatoes ripen faster than we can eat them, and I turn them into sauce. And if I'm making sauce from fresh tomatoes, in my mind, it's got to have fresh picked basil in it.

We eat pasta with sauce on a pretty regular basis. I refuse to buy jarred sauce. If you're buying jarred sauce, I want to implore you to start making your own. Making sauce from fresh tomatoes is a job. It's a lot of work and takes a couple of hours. I'd be foolish to think that everyone has the time and inclination to take that on. But canned tomatoes make sauce that's fresher tasting, and far better than most jarred sauces out there, and you control the ingredients. Using the quick sauce method, you can make a batch of delicious sauce in less time than it takes to boil the pasta water.

To turn our fresh tomatoes into sauce we only need four ingredients. Onion, garlic, olive oil, and fresh basil (not counting salt and pepper, of course).

Here's our freshly picked tomatoes all lined up in a row, ready to be transformed into a delicious sauce.

First we need to remove the skins. 60 seconds in boiling water, then a quick dunk into ice water to stop the cooking will do the trick.

The skins are loosened, time to peel them.

After removing the skins, I do a rough chop, at the same removing any woody core, and any soft or rotten spots.

These are beefsteak tomatoes, and they have a lot of seeds. I'll run them through a food mill to remove the seeds, but they need to be cooked down a bit first.

About 15 minutes later, they're ready for the food mill.

After grinding down the tomatoes in the food mill, we have our tomato puree. I diced one yellow onion, and minced 3 cloves of garlic and sautéed them in olive oil until softened, then I added the puree, and let it cook down till the sauce is thickened, about an hour.

While the sauce cooks down, I'm off to the garden to pick the basil. 

I added salt and pepper to taste, removed the pot from the heat, and added the fresh basil. Our sauce is done.

That took just short of two hours. I think I should reward myself for my hard work. What's the reward you ask? I'm going to eat some of that delicious sauce of course! This sauce is so good I don't need any pasta, I just put a ladle or so in a small bowl, butter up a couple of thick slices of Perreca's bread, grab a spoon, and go to town.


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