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Today it is freezing, literally.  Yesterday I spent the last day of the gardening season in my garden, picking whatever tomatoes and peppers I thought may be able to ripen in the house, and shedding the inevitable tear or two.  I never thought it would be such an emotional experience, gardening.   I really thought it was just something we would do for a fun experiment.  In May we built some raised beds and ignored all the warnings about waiting to plant until June.

Five months later I am sitting here in my kitchen, looking at bowls upon bowls of tomatoes in every shade from deep red to pale green, proof of our successful year.  Even though I hate to see my plants that were just thriving yesterday go so quickly, I come away from this with a great new hobby, and an even greater respect and love for the earth. It is truly amazing how these little seeds have provided so much nourishment!

As for my bumper crop of tomatoes, I will be using them in everything this week, from my roasted tomato salsa to this fresh and easy tomato sauce.  The tomato sauce is not the perfectly smooth marinara that is the result of canned crushed tomatoes.  This is the “I’m too busy to peel and seed my tomatoes” kind of sauce, and it is rustic and lovely in its own right.  I serve it with pasta or as a sauce for my pizza, and I will probably be eating on just about everything else this week.

Goodbye summer, you were amazing!

Rustic Garden Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large bell pepper, finely diced

1 pint of white mushrooms, thinly siced

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 pounds ripe red tomatoes, halved (or even quartered if they are large)

1/2 loosely packed cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped

Heat oil in a large stockpot or saucepan over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and bell pepper, cook stirring frequently for eight minutes.  Add the garlic and stir constantly for one minute.  Add the tomatoes and cover the pan.  After about seven minutes remove the lid and mash the tomatoes with a potato masher or a whisk, you could even use an immersion blender if you want it really smooth.  Once it is nice and saucy, add the herbs, salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to low and recover, let simmer for ten minutes stirring occasionally.  Serve in any recipe that calls for marinara.

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