Monday, August 29, 2016

Using up fresh tomatoes....

I have a good recipe for pasta sauce, but it relies on canned ingredients.  This past Friday, we visited with DH's brother and sister in law, and they shared bags full of garden bounty with us.  Hubby will not eat fresh tomatoes and I knew that I wouldn't be able to eat all of them before they went bad, so I went on a hunt for ways to use them up in something that we would both enjoy.  I combined a bunch of ideas and this is what I came up with.  It smelled amazing while it was cooking. We ate it over spaghetti, and found it really tasty.

Crockpot Tomato Pasta Sauce, (using fresh tomatoes)

1 to 2 tsp of olive oil
Minced garlic to taste, fresh or dried, (I used 2 tsp dried minced garlic)
2 or 3 small white onions, finely diced (any sort of onion would work),
5 to 6 cups of chopped tomatoes, (I seeded mine, but it isn't necessary)
1 medium zucchini, diced into small pieces
1 large carrot, shredded
1/4 cup of red wine (I think you could probably leave this out)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp each dried fennel seed, thyme, and rosemary
1 tsp salt (more if desired)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, more if you like spicy sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

I used a 5 quart crockpot, which would have been able to handle double of this recipe.  Turn it on high, and add enough olive oil to just barely cover the bottom.  Toss in the chopped onions and garlic, give it a good stir to coat everything with oil, and put the lid on the pot.  Let this cook while you prepare the tomatoes.   After a while, this will start to sizzle and the onions will brown a bit.  (This step isn't necessary, but it brings out the taste of the onions and garlic.)

Meanwhile, wash and chop the tomatoes and zucchini.  I seeded the tomatoes, (hubby's request), but did not peel them.(I would add some chopped fresh green pepper, and maybe some mushrooms, if I were the only one eating this.). By this time the onions in the pot should be sizzling nicely.  Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot, except for the fresh basil.  Stir well.  Cook on high for an hour or two.  Once it is boiling, turn the pot to low and let it simmer for 3 to 4 hours.  It will likely be somewhat thin, so at this point, I turn it back up to high, add the basil, and uncover it about halfway so that some of the liquid evaporates.  I have an oval shaped crockpot and I just turned the lid sideways.  When it has reached the desired consistency stir in the tomato paste.  It took a couple of hours for the sauce to get nice and thick. This would probably vary, depending on the type of tomato used, and the consistency desired.

I think that this would freeze well, although I haven't tried it.

It was my plan to let the sauce cool and then run it through the blender, (a food mill would work too), as hubby does not like lumps in his food.  Surprisingly, he told me not to bother.  He even had two helpings.

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