This week, I made a pledge to myself to make as much food as I could from scratch. By this I mean, unless I didn’t have the equipment to produce the product, I would make it at home. This project came about due to the sheer amount of produce that I have received since working at the farmer’s market. Last week, I netted myself 15 plus tomatoes and had no idea what I was going to do with them all.
In the end, I decided to make home-made tomato sauce to cut down on the number of tomatoes currently residing chez moi. Tomato sauce was something I had never tried to make before and after consulting a few recipes, I quickly realized that it was less a science and more an art. While lots of recipes require you to follow fairly strict instructions to ensure a tasty product, tomato sauce gives the creator a lot of flexibility. As a cheap student, I loved making tomato sauce because I could throw whatever was hiding in my fridge into the mix. Zucchini, carrot, fresh basil, onion, and tomato, where all sacrificed to the pasta sauce gods, resulting in a delicious and nutritious product. I really challenge you readers to go wild and throw in whatever you want while making tomato sauce.
The trick with making pasta sauce is to master blanching tomatoes. It is the EASIEST way to peel tomatoes. Check out this video that explains this easy pealing technique. I apologize for this guy’s creepy voice and ignore that whole part about using a knife at the end. I just rub the skin off. It kind of reminds me of peeling off a sun burn. (gross, but fun)
The easiest way to see the tomatoes after blanching is to cut them in half and then just squeeze them. The seeds and gunk will come flying out. Just make sure you aim towards the trash can.
The second half of this from-scratch meal was home-made pasta. Now, I have fond memories of my dad making pasta with his pasta machine and I thought I could resurrect some of this nostalgia by imitating him. My only problem: I don’t have a pasta machine.
Instead I used my own muscles and my trusty rolling pin. The end result was just okay. My was pasta was too thick despite beating it will my rolling pin for 10 minutes. It seemed that no matter how long I rolled, it wasn’t going to get any thinner. I think that I might have to go bargain hunting at the VV boutique to see if I can net me a pasta machine for next time.
The thing that I really liked about making everything from scratch was that I knew EVERY ingredient that was being used. Say goodbye to unpronounceable chemical preservatives, and hello to fresh, healthy food. I think it was a cool experience to be able to handle every ingredient before I added to the mix. Unless you read the ingredients when buy pasta sauce or pasta at the grocery store, you have no idea what you are eating. From now on, I will definitely try and be more aware about what I am putting in my body. Obviously fresh tomatoes don’t last forever in Ottawa but while supplies last I will be doing my best.
Recipe BelowTomato Sauce
- 10 Ripe Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 T olive Oil
- 1 Onion, diced
- 4 carr0ts, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1 Zucchini grated
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1 T, Dried Oregano
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Take the diced tomatoes and puree them using a blender
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the onions and carrots until the onions begin to soften
- Add pureed tomatoes, Zucchini, Basil, Oregano, and Bay Leaf and bring to a boil
- Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 hours.
- If a smooth sauce is desired, remove bay leaf, pour sauce into blend and puree. Return to heat and continue to simmer for another 2 hours
- If a chunkier sauce is desired, let simmer for an additional 2 hours
- Salt and pepper to taste and serve with your favourite pasta
*Note cooked ground beef, meatballs or other protein can be added at the 2 hour mark for a meatier sauce. *