Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pasta Sauce Recipe--of sorts

In my last post I talked about making pasta sauce.

This isn't really so much a recipe as a "what I did and you can do something like it too." Really, pasta sauce isn't so specific a practice that you need to have a full-on recipe. Just a good sense of what you like.

We started with 25 lbs of tomato seconds from our farm share. The night before the Big Cook, we peeled, seeded, and either chopped or pureed the tomatoes. I chopped about a little less than 1/4 of the tomatoes, then refrigerated everything. (We really had to process them that night as they were very ripe and we didn't want anything to start spoiling.)

The next day (during nap time) I headed to the supermarket for more ingredients. We decided to NOT make meat sauce, as this was going to be our base pasta sauce for several months to come, and we might want to use it with some meatless or chicken dishes.

I came home and started on the cooking. I had a 3 gallon pot which turned out to not be big enough, so if you do this you might want to start with 2 pots and split everything (this may also let you do a meat and a meatless batch)

Chopped up 2 very large onions and minced a head of garlic. Started these in olive oil and added fresh chopped basil, oregano, and flat leaf parsley, as well as salt and pepper. When the onions were soft I added the tomatoes, at which point I realized I had forgotten the 4 boxes of mushrooms that I had purchased.

So I sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil and added them to the sauce. It was fine. But don't be like me. Do the mushrooms with the onions and garlic and you'll be less likely to get splattered with hot oil like I did (I'm ok).

From here I added sugar to the mix and also realized that we needed to split into 2 pots or else the mushrooms would displace enough sauce that we'd overflow. So I got my 2nd largest pot and transferred about 3 quarts of sauce. Note that the sauce in the smaller pot ended up getting thicker than the sauce in the big pot. Not a big deal either, but you might want to re-mix them back together if you want consistent packs of sauce.

From here we just let everything cook, then tasted and adjusted seasonings (I did end up adding a little garlic powder to the bigger pot but not to the smaller one). I also added 3 small cans of tomato paste to the big pot and 1 to the smaller pot, which gave it a bit of a richer flavor. These cooked for several hours, and we actually cooked the bigger pot for longer to get it to thicken more.

When all was done, we had dinner, then went to packaging. We do not do canning, but we do do freezing, so we split out the sauce into quart sized containers to cool. When they were cool enough to freeze, we transferred the sauce into quart sized ziploc bags, pressed out the extra air, and froze flat. We kept one quart in the refrigerator to use this week and had six quarts in the freezer.

All in all, it worked pretty well. The hardest part truly was the peeling/seeding/pureeing (would have been nicer to have a better food processor) and the rest I was able to do during baby naptimes. This is a nice basic sauce that can be adjusted when used to become spicier, sweeter, etc. for different recipes.

I like how much stuff came from our CSA--the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil were all from our CSA and the other herbs were fresh herbs from the supermarket. The mushrooms were from the supermarket too.

Now, do I freeze peaches next week?

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