It was a great summer for tomatoes in my garden! Even though the heavy rains and high temperatures stressed them tremendously, I was still able to pick more tomatoes than my husband and I could eat, even after giving many away. I still have some ripening on my plants!
Last year, I tried freezing tomatoes whole, thinking I would use them in soups and stews, but I didn’t use as many as I had hoped. This year, I decided to make marinara sauce with my tomatoes to freeze and use in various pasta dishes or as a dip for eggplant or calamari throughout the fall and winter. As of today, I’ve made three batches of marinara and have 14 pint jars in my freezer. A pint of sauce is just about perfect for two.
You could also use a water bath canning method with this but I think the frozen sauce tastes even more like garden fresh sauce. I’ve adapted this recipe from several recipes and after three batches of tweaking the recipe, this tastes about as perfect as a marinara sauce can get.
Garlic, tomatoes, chopped basil and sprigs of oregano all from my garden. Heavenly!
A generous pour of red wine and then slowly simmered for up to five hours on the stove top to reduce to a sauce consistency and meld the flavors, I then used my immersion blender to whir it into a smooth sauce but you can leave it as coarse as you like.
If you are still harvesting tomatoes, or have access to a farm stand or farmer’s market, look for imperfect tomatoes that are sold at a discount. You can always cut out any blemishes or brown spots before adding them to the pot. Pick up some fresh basil and oregano while you’re at it and one or two nice yellow tomatoes. You’ll have a great tasting, thick marinara sauce in an afternoon without spending a ton of time!
We’re enjoying some beautiful early fall hues of purple, red and yellow in the garden and I’m not only still picking tomatoes but also flowers for bouquets.
I pulled out one of my mother’s old ceramic pitchers (I think it might actually be a coffee or tea pot) to use as a vase. I thought it suited the harvest season 🙂 Happy fall and harvest cooking!
Homemade Red Wine Marinara Sauce
Makes about 4-5 pints of sauce.
Recipe may be doubled or even tripled if you have a lot of tomatoes to use. Cooking time will vary according to how many tomatoes you are using. You may use canned tomatoes and dried herbs but you won’t get the same, garden-fresh flavor.
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
4 pounds tomatoes (about 8-9 large) peeled and coarsely chopped, including juices
4 large cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
3/4 cup hearty red wine, such as cabernet or burgundy
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
Note: The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to score the bottoms with an X using a sharp, serrated knife and put them into a pot of boiling water for about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a large bowl of ice water. The skin will peel off easily with your hands. Do this in batches until all of your tomatoes are peeled.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until softened, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, add minced garlic and sauté for another minute.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Bring the liquid from the tomatoes to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 hours, stirring occasionally until reduced to a sauce consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
Use an immersion blender, or a regular blender in small batches, process the sauce until it is as smooth as you like. If desired, you can strain the sauce through a medium mesh strainer but it’s not necessary.