Spicy Homemade Marinara Sauce

This recipe is a little creation of my own, with some inspiration from our CSA farmers! They provide us with 1-2 recipes of their own each week to accompany whatever is in the box. It comes in very handy when I’m just not sure what to do with a certain products. In this case, we were becoming overrun with tomatoes from both our garden and the CSA, so I decided to – loosely following our farmer’s family recipe – try making a homemade sauce of my own.

Full disclaimer: the method below on how to skin/seed the tomatoes is not what I originally used when I made this sauce. I tried the method recommended by our farmers, but I didn’t have the right tools – i.e. a food mill – so it didn’t work out too well. That’s why, if you look closely, you will see some tomato seeds still in my sauce. Not ideal, but I don’t think it hurt anything. When you leave the seeds in the sauce you run the risk of it turning bitter, but since I was going for a spicier version anyway I wasn’t too concerned and figured the spice would overpower any bitterness. And I believe it did.

So long story short, I’m confident the directions below are easier to follow and a better alternative to skinning and seeding the tomatoes if you don’t have a fancy food mill to help with that process. Let me know what you think! Would it be better to just give-in and invest in a food mill or does this peel & seed method below work just as well? I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences!

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Ingredients:

2 lbs. fresh, ripe tomatoes (I used about 8 medium-large sized tomatoes.)
olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 Serrano pepper, finely diced (seeds removed)
1/4 c. red cooking wine
1 T. dried oregano
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Start by blanching your tomatoes. (Here’s easy instructions if you’ve never done this before.)
2. Once tomatoes are skinned and have cores removed, cut into four quarter sections. Using your fingers, remove the seed section of the tomatoes. Chop the remaining tomatoes into large pieces and add to a large pan with a little bit of water.
3. Simmer tomatoes and water over medium-high heat until the tomatoes start to break down and dissolve.
4. When the tomatoes are mostly dissolved, remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash the remaining tomatoes until mostly liquid. (Careful! It may still be hot!) It’s ok if it’s more watery than you want – that will boil out.
5. Put the tomato sauce into another sauce pot and put on low heat to simmer while you prepare the rest of the sauce.
6. Wipe clean the original pan and put back on the stove, on medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onions, and garlic. Cook until onions are almost translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the finely diced Serrano peppers and cook 2-3 more minutes. (Add a bit more olive oil, if needed.)
7. Add the red cooking wine, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook 1-2 more minutes before adding the tomato sauce back into the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow sauce to come to a gentle simmer for 5 more minutes.
8. Right before turning off the heat, add chopped fresh basil and combine.
9. Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy!

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