Saturday, September 21, 2013

One Last Project Before I Go

I came home to a rainbow of tomatoes waiting, some just ready (above) and some a little past ready. I hate to let anything go to waste, especially not my beautiful homegrown tomatoes. I could have canned up jars for winter (I usually do a dozen jars or so --we're not big canned tomato eaters -- each summer)  but inside today I was dreading all that blanching and peeling.
Last year I put up a few jars of sauce and they came in handy over and over again adding flavor to soups and stews and braises and sauces. I decided on an easy cook batch of Sicilian style tomato sauce.
First I chopped up my beautiful tomatoes, not too small just enough to get them all into the pot. I added in dried parsley and basil along with oregano, crushed red peppers and 4 bay leaves, then sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme. Usually when I can sauce I make a less herby more basic version but today a little extra flavor felt right. I poured in 1 cup of olive oil and 3/4 cup of red wine and brought everything to a boil, pressing down the  tomatoes slightly to start them breaking down.  The pot simmered for 2 1/2 hours until I could see a thick sauce forming. I removed the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves then passed the remaining sauce through a food mill to separate the tomato skins and seeds.
I was feeling pretty lazy by the time my sauce was ready to jar. I thought about just pouring some into freezer containers and tucking them away. But my sauce was so thick and beautiful (and tasty), I knew I would miss seeing the filled jars on the pantry shelf and hearing the satisfying thunk of a hot jar's seal setting. Out came the canning pot.
I processed the jars for about 10 minutes, wiped them clean and tucked them away for future meals. I had just a bit of sauce left in the pot with dinnertime on the way. I started a pot with olive oil, garlic, onions, and finely chopped peppers (there were fresh ones calling my name in the garden). As the aromatics sautéed I mixed up some easy meatballs. Ground pork and beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, chopped garlic, chopped shallots, basil, parsley, oregano, S&P and crushed red peppers, rolled around fresh cubes of mozzarella. A plain meatball with a surprise. I browned the meatballs in the pot with the onion mixture, poured in a little red wine and the leftover sauce and let everything simmer for about 30 minutes. The sauce was thick and rich and meaty. Just right for a cool fall evening. A perfect last meal at home (for a while).

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