Sunday, July 19, 2009

Simple Pleasures of summer - Homegrown tomatoes

One of my secrets to happiness, is to enjoy life's "simple pleasures". Yes, I know, it sounds so cliche, but it really is true. Here is the first, in my upcoming installments of "Simple Pleasures". Enjoy!

There really is nothing quite like the delicious taste of a homegrown tomato, whether it's small and sweet, like the beloved cherry, or big and juicy such as the beefsteak variety. Now is the perfect time to enjoy this simple pleasure. Growing tomatoes is really not at all complicated - a nice sunny spot, whether in the ground or in a pot, decent soil, water, and a good feeding once in awhile is all you really need. Without proper support you'll have tomatoes hitting the ground, so staking or caging is a must. I usually have 4 -5 plants each year, of all different varieties, which gives me enough tomatoes for my family and to share with friends & family. Here is a recipe for homemade marinara that I have come up with, based on a recipe from Emeril Lagasse. It's very good over pasta topped with freshly grated parmesan, but also good on fish, chicken, veggies, crusty french bread and fried or scrambled eggs. Don't forget to invite one (or more) of your besties over when it's all done, light some candles, and crack open a bottle of wine!

Homemade Marinara w/ Fresh Garden Tomatoes

  • 4-5 lbs peeled and seeded (preferrably homegrown, any type) tomatoes w/ juice*
  • 1 generous C. finely chopped onion
  • ¼ C. finely chopped carrot
  • Aprrox. ½-1 C. chicken stock/broth (may substitute veg. stock or white wine for vegetarian version)

  • 1-2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 4-5 finely chopped garlic cloves (more or less according to your liking)

  • Chopped Fresh herbs, such as oregano, flat leaf parsley, basil, thyme
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes, if you like it spicy (optional)

  • Kosher Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Makes approx. 2 quarts of sauce, ingredient amounts may be adjusted for more or less sauce, I'm not too particular about measuring:)

*To peel and seed tomatoes, core end of tomatoes very close to stem. Cute an “x” in opposite end of tomato and place in large pot of boiling water for no more than one minute. Remove tomatoes w/ slotted spoon and immediately submerge in bowl of ice water. Once tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and break open w/ your hands over a colander set in a bowl. This will allow the juices from the tomatoes to be saved and used for the sauce. Using your fingers, remove most or all of the seeds, placing seeded tomatoes in a seperate bowl.
When fresh, homegrown tomatoes are not available, or too expensive to buy, you can use canned tomatoes (preferably Roma type), but the taste is different than using fresh.

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or pot, sauté onion, carrot, and garlic until translucent and tender. Add tomatoes w/ natural juices, fresh herbs, chicken stock, red pepper flakes (if using), and salt and pepper.
Cover pot until tomato sauce comes to a boil. Remove lid, and continue to simmer for at least one hour, or until sauce has thickened a little and taste is to your liking. At this point, the sauce is done for a chunky style, or you can blend some or all of the sauce in a blender or food processor for a smoother marinara sauce. Allow sauce to cool in pot on before blending.

Sauce can be kept for up to 2 weeks in freezer, or several days in fridge.
Step 1: Peeled & Seeded

Step 2. Simmering for 1 hour+

Step 3. Finished, ready to eat or freeze

1 comment:

  1. What can't you do?! Martha Stewart better watch out!


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