Fabulous From-The-Garden Tomato Sauce

Last night we conjured up a great garden-derived tomato sauce to go with some whole grain spaghetti and meatballs. It’s getting to be close to the end of the spring garden in Florida and before heading North it’s time to use some of the frozen stuff together with some fresh herbs as well. Those of you who follow this blog regularly will know we had a great crop of Roma tomatoes this spring. Romas are the best to use in sauces. We had so many tomatoes this year we had to freeze many. We generally do this in freezer bags about 30 tomatoes at a time. Just wash the tomatoes after picking, put them in a freezer bag and freeze directly. To start the tomato preparations for sauce just boil up a little water, get the frozen tomatoes out of the freezer and add about 10 at a time while still hard frozen to the boiling water. By the time the water has reboiled the skins on the frozen tomatoes are cracking. Set them in a bowl with a little cracked ice and boil up the remaining tomatoes 10 at a time using the same water, each time fishing out the tomatoes and adding them to the same bowl of cracked ice.

As this process moves along and the tomatoes can be handled without burning your fingers, take them one or two at a time and pop them out of their skins into a pot in which you have previously sauteed about 10 cloves of garlic, a half of a good sized onion diced with a sprinkling of dried parsley and a little salt and pepper. Just collect the tomato skins and throw them into the compost heap. Some folks take the time to remove the seeds from the Roma tomatoes before adding them to the sauce first but we don’t find the seeds objectionable at all and everything goes into the developing sauce except for the skins.

Stir the tomato-sauteed garlic-onion-parsley mixture while you boil it down somewhat. Then add about 25-30 large freshly picked basil leaves (cut down finely if you prefer) and the leaves from about 10-15 good size sprigs from the oregano plants. Mix everything together and bring to a boil. Stir and add a little salt, but not too much. The sauce is full of flavor and won’t need much salt at all. Add your previously prepared meatballs (about 20 small ones) and let the sauce simmer for about an hour, tasting now and then.  The meatballs and sauce will exchange flavors a bit and while I may think I have to add a little pepper or something else I never do.

Prepare the pasta or an alternative bedding like yellow rice and serve. As an alternative to spaghetti and meatballs, this is also a great sauce to put into your chili in place of canned tomato sauce, or into a sausage and vegetable stir-fry. Indeed, the above recipe generally makes for more sauce than you’ll use in the spaghetti and meatballs option alone. You can keep the left over sauce with meatballs and use it in chili later–just break up the meatballs for the chili.  Alternatively, fish out the meatballs and eat them separately. You may want to use a different kind of meat for your chili or just use beef that has not been flavored the way you do your meatballs. You can freeze the sauce if you need more than a few days between uses.

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