I had a bunch of tomatoes to use up and was deciding between jarring salsa or marinara sauce, and in the end it came down to the fact that I also have tons of fresh basil and the fact that we just use marinara sauce all the time - be it for pasta, chicken, veggies, etc. I got 3 pints of this sauce in jars and used the rest to make a yummy pasta dish for lunch.
I started by peeling the tomatoes using the boil method - just boiling them until you see a crack in the skin and then plunging them in cold water to stop the cooking. Then you can easily take the peel off the tomato. If you try to jar the skins of the tomatoes, they will usually get kind of tough and not very palatable as the jars sit.
|My tomato peeling set up|
|Red and yellow onions|
The I added some red wine. Always always always add red wine to your red sauce. It gives it such good flavor and depth. I also added in some dried oregano at this point because I didn't have that fresh.
|The carrots in the pot|
I then chopped and added my fresh herbs - basil and parsley. I ended up with almost a cup of chopped basil and half a cup of parsley.
Then into my hot, sanitized pint jars it went. I made sure to make the biggest mess possible, because it isn't good food unless there is a mess involved. I processed the jars for about 10 minutes.
|Boiling, then ready for a busy day!|
Now, let me tell you about my new discovery. Homemade ricotta cheese. Now, this isn't real ricotta. Real ricotta comes from a second boiling of whey after making some other cheese. This is a quick, easy shortcut though, and beats any ricotta I've gotten at the store. Plus, I can chose the milk it comes from, and know everything that is going into it in my own kitchen.
You just start with 8 cups of milk, 2 teaspoons of salt, and heat it to 180 degrees, much like with yogurt. Then you remove it from the heat and add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of regular vinegar. You let it sit for 10 minutes, undisturbed, and then strain it all through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. I let mine sit for about half an hour - the longer it sits, the drier the ricotta will be.
|Mmm creamy goodness|
|He is saying "pasta!"|
|They both asked for thirds!|
|Seriously, she is so darn cute.|
|Yaya for fresh pasta sauce!|
Fresh Tomato and Herb Marinara Sauce
9-10 medium sized tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 whole, large onion (red, yellow, or a combo)
1 jar baby food carrots, or one carrot finely chopped
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup fresh, chopped parsley
1 cup fresh, chopped basil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Skin the tomatoes and set them aside. In a large sauce pan add olive oil and saute chopped onions for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add wine and carrots, then add oregano. Add your tomatoes and mash them up a bit with your spoon or with a potato masher. Let this reduce a bit until it is slightly thicker. Add in your fresh herbs, salt, and pepper, and let it boil another 5-10 minutes or so.
You can jar about 3 pints with about 1 1/2 cups left over for a fresh meal.