Homemade / Homegrown Spaghetti Sauce
It's the end of June and the garden is pumping out fruits and veggies. We are cooking from the garden daily. We plant about 20 tomato plants each year, all kinds, and love using them in all sorts of recipes (if not just raw with a bit of salt!).
One of our favorite summer meals is spaghetti or pasta. For this recipe we really get to use a lot of what we grow, maybe the most well-rounded with the most from the garden of anything else we do.
The key ingredient and base for the sauce is the tomato. For years we've made homemade tomato sauce, but only a couple years ago did we get it right! We used to just cut up the tomatoes, adding them to the sauce, cooking it downa and blending them. Often there would be a bit of bitterness to the flavor and quite often depending on the type of tomato, chewy skins that had shrunk and become fibrous. When we made sauce in the winter from canned tomatoes and tomato paste we didn't have this problem. Somone told us the trick and we've never looked back. We scald the tomatoes and remove the skins. We also create our own paste from the process - you'll see...
The key to scalding them is to get water up to a very rapid and hot boil and having a vessel nearby with cold icewater in it. You drop the tomatoes in the boiling pot and watch them. As soon as the skins begin to split you pull them out and drop them in the water. We aren't trying to cook the tomatoes in this process, just get the skins loose and the water stops the cooking. We do this process in waves, not with all the tomatoes at once. We put the tomatoes aside to fully cool. Once they are cool you grab them one by one and pull off the skins. They should easily come loose. Toss the skins in the compost bucket and the flesh of the tomatoe in a mixing bowl.
Once you've put all the tomatoes (skinned) in the bowl, dump them into a colander to separate the liquid (some people also remove the seeds, we don't). Take the liquid and put in a small saucepan and simmer. This will slowly cook down to your paste.
Set the rest to the side to later add to the sauce mixture.
From the garden:
3 - 4 pounds of tomatoes
1 large or a couple small eggplant (if you don't like them, leave them out - they are mostly a thickener)
1 pound of onions
1 pound of peppers - sweet or mild varieties of any kind
1 full clove of garlic
A handful each of basil, parsley, oregano plus a couple stalks of thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric, coriander and chili powder
1 box of pasta - we use vermacelli
Pour the olive oil into a stock pot and heat on low. Chop and add the onions, peppers and garlic. Stir for 6 to 7 minutes, allowing them to sweat and slightly cook. Remove the skins from the eggplant, chop and add to the mixture. Stir and cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the chopped scallions and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the chopped herbs. All of these can be rough chopped, they'll be blended later.
Allow the mixture to simmer for 20 or 30 minutes on low - we want a slow rolling boil, not a high heat. Add the spices and the salt. Cook for another 10 minutes. Either pour the mix into a food processer, blender or use a handheld blender and mix to taste - we like it just a bit chunky, some like it more mixed down to a less thick sauce. Add the paste that was cooked in the other pot.
This can cook, on low or simmer, for as long as you want. We let it go for at least an hour, sometimes all afternoon on really low heat.
Cook the pasta per the directions on the package and eat!