Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fresh Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce

So I've never really been much of a green-thumb.  Houseplants actually fear me.  But over the last few years I've had more and more of a desire to become more self-sufficient.  Living in a Ukrainian village as we do, we've been able to have chickens, pigs, rabbits, sheep, and even a short-lived stint with ducks.  This year, I thought I would try my hand at a little gardening to add to our ability to grow our own food.

So for my small experiment, I had two raised beds and an array of potted herbs.  The herbs in the pots didn't do so well (I think they were influenced by the houseplants), but everything in the beds did great.  At least, I feel successful since we are actually eating food that just a few months ago were tiny little seeds.  There's something satisfying about that.

But now, it's September and if we don't eat those tomatoes, they are going to go bad on the vines.   I also have bell peppers in the garden and plenty of basil (planted in the raised beds it did great).  So these ingredients were the basis of my pasta sauce experiments.   After many attempts, here is the final version for you to enjoy.  It's great on pasta, you can use it plain or with ground beef or sausage added.  It's also delicious on pizza.  Don't let those tomatoes go to waste!

The Step-by-Step

 Saute the crunchy things

First, get a medium saucepan on the heat with a little olive oil in the bottom.  Maybe 2 or 3 Tablespoons.  

So here we have the players in today's pasta sauce challenge. Now look at these things and choose the members of Team Crunchy.  That's right... onions, peppers and garlic.  Now chop those guys up and throw them in the saucepan you have going.

Saute these guys until the veggies get a little soft and the onions are more translucent.  

Cook it all together

While the crunchy guys are cooking, chop your tomatoes and basil.  I like to give the basil a bit of a rough chop, like this.  

Toss the tomatoes, basil, wine, sugar and salt into the pot with the onion mixture.  Get it all cooking together.

Now get it bubbling, then turn down to a simmer.  Let it simmer like that for at least 45 minutes, but longer is fine.  If you let it simmer longer than an hour, you may want to put the lid on to avoid it boiling down to nothing.


Now I realize some people like a chunky sauce.  My kids run screaming into the night at the sight of chunks.  So we puree the sauce.  I also like the texture better once it's pureed, it's thicker and saucier.  But you can start pureeing and stop when you like.  If you do not own one of these magical hand blenders, then you can pour the sauce (carefully) into a regular blender.  If you don't have either, then I guess you're going with the chunky sauce.

So this is what it looks like all pureed.  At this point you can use the sauce on any sort of pasta, lasagna or even pizza. Super yummy on pizza.  Add cooked meat if you like or leave as is.

No jar from the store can beat the fresh taste.  I think next year I'm going to need a bigger garden.

The Recipe


1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 medium bell pepper (about 1 cup)
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cups packed fresh basil, chopped
1/4 c red wine
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Saute the onion, bell pepper and garlic in a little olive oil until softened.  

Add tomatoes, basil, wine, sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil then turn heat to low and simmer for at least 45 minutes.

Using a hand blender or regular blender, puree to desired smoothness.

Enjoy that fresh-from-the-garden taste!