This year, I submitted blackberry and blueberry jams, my blue ribbon pickled okra, and spaghetti sauce in the NC Mountain State Fair. Though I had spent time getting the recipes just right on the jams and okra (a girl’s gotta keep up her reputation), I ended up making the spaghetti sauce last minute at 11:30 pm the night before it was due at the fair.
Having created a new recipe, I decided it was worth entering even though the instructions suggested that “traditional” preserved foods were preferred to creative combinations. Well, I found out what happened to traditional–it ended up on the top shelf with all the ribbonless jars. It was my spaghetti sauce that took home the ribbon this year–second place in the preserved foods/tomato division!
Growing Grace Farm’s Zesty Marinara
16 large organic tomatoes
3 12 oz cans tomato paste (for thicker sauce or 2 cans for thinner)
1 onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups dried tomatoes
1/2 cup Thai basil ribbons (easiest way to make ribbons–herb scissors! You will never go back to a knives with fresh herbs ever again!)
1/2 cup sweet basil ribbons
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (MUST HAVE if canning)
crushed red pepper flakes (a generous pinch or two)
dried herbs, salt, pepper to taste
Preparation of tomatoes:
Boil water in large pot. Place tomatoes in water. Fill sink with lots of ice and cold water while waiting. When skin splits on tomatoes ladle them into the cold water in sink to cool off. Using a large colander and large bowl, begin tomato prep process by peeling skin off and throwing in compost bucket. Squeeze or cut tomato so you can get as many seeds out as possible. Let 4-5 tomatoes sit in colander for 10 min after seeding to drain some of the fluids. Place them in large bowl and continue process until all tomatoes are finished.
Any tomato juice should be poured off into a cup (needed later). A few at a time, put tomatoes in food processor and process until desired texture. Pour tomato puree into bowl until ready.
Heat the olive oil on a medium heat. Toss in chopped onions and pressed garlic and season with salt, pepper, and any dried herbs you use. Stir intermittently for 5-10 minutes then pour in tomato puree. Add more dried herbs, salt, pepper, vinegar (adds acidity–needed if canning, optional if not), basil ribbons. Cook on medium heat and stir intermittently for 20 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until blended. Add the red pepper and dried tomatoes.
Cover with lid and raise heat. Allow to cook at a simmer but checking to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot. The longer it cooks, the more flavor it will have. Enjoy as a sauce or eat like a thick soup/ragout on a cold Saturday afternoon! Yummy! Might also be a great base for a pizza as well.
Canning Note: Tomato sauce needs extra acidity added so if you choose not to use vinegar, add lemon juice instead. Als0, you must process longer than jams and pickles. I typically hot water boil my cans for 10 minutes, add sauce and process for 25 minutes, then cool.