Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Garden Veg Fresh Pasta Sauce

(Printable Recipe)
Vegetable lovers and vegetarians, this succulent sauce is for you. Loaded with chunks of fresh garden harvest, but made tastier and easier with the addition of prepared tomato sauce. Serve it over pasta or go all out veg crazy and have it on zucchini "noodles," as above, made with a julienne tool. (And meat lovers, don't despair, here's a link to the carnivore's version: Secret Recipe Spaghetti Sauce)
Ah, the lovely collection of veggie-licious delights for our wonderful sauce. We'll start with half the huge Vidalia onion (or all of a smaller one, the sweeter the better) and one carrot and 2-3 ribs of celery, broken into pieces suitable for the food processor so we can take just the three down to mulch.

I like to start with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and let this trio of onion, carrot, celery soften and caramelize a bit over medium heat. Give it 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the chopped and seeded tomato for another 7 or 8 until it looks more like this:

I do not add the rest of the vegetables until the sauce has simmered awhile to develop flavor. So for our next addition we'll be taking the lazy path toward sauce using several delicious and ready-made tomato products. My favorite brand is Muir Glen Organic for its unmatchable flavor, but if I'm shopping at a smaller store that doesn't carry it, Hunt's is my standby.

This is the perfect combo:
Sauce, Paste, Puree. You'll need to add about 1 cup or two of water also which will mostly cook out as the sauce concentrates and condenses over lowest heat for the next hour or so. You can simmer it less, say 30 min, but it will not be as good. There, said it. You choose.
Add some fresh thyme, if you have it, stripping the tiny leaves off the stem by sliding it through your fingers from the top of the stem downward (doesn't work well the other way, you'll see). If you don't have fresh use about 1 tsp of dried and twice that much oregano and basil. Also add 2-3 crushed garlic cloves at this point with 1 Tbs salt and 2-3 Tbs sugar. Now, your sauce is almost ready to very slowly bubble along, being stirred occasionally to be sure it isn't sticking. Don't cover it completely but you'll want to set the lid ajar or use a splatter screen unless you'd like a speckled kitchen.

You're very sharp, aren't you, and caught that I said it's "almost" ready? Now, I will tell you one of my favorite secret additions to oh-so-tasty sauces, soups, meat rubs - I could go on, but we have work to do here. This is dried mushroom powder, a powerful punch of "umami" which the Japanese consider one of the mysterious food elements that has the power to improve all the other flavors in a dish, sort of like a natural MSG. And if you're wondering about the mysterious packaging of this wonder product, it's because I made it myself and put it in a leftover toothpick bottle. Here's how you can do the same and perhaps choose a more elegant container:
Get yourself a dried mushroom blend and whir it in the coffee bean grinder. That's it. You'll have umami powder in about 30 seconds. It's easy to find these dried blends in little plastic bags at most any grocery, usually placed in or near produce, often close to the fresh mushrooms. If you've noticed the industrial size box I buy them in, then you've begun to realize their importance in my kitchen. Sort through the pieces and choose the crispiest, driest ones for the best grinding. *Note: this grinder is for spices and such only. Coffee beans never touch it for I fear their harsh oils will be impossible to remove.*

No, we haven't forgotten the vegetables! After you've added 1-2 Tbs of the mushroom powder to our sauce, it's time to chop. I like everything fairly uniform in size except the fresh mushroom, which is finer.
When the sauce has bubbled for about an hour, add the fresh vegetable and give it another 30 minutes or so, no more than another 60. Obviously this is a sauce I make on a day when I'm home piddling around in the kitchen or nearby doing other things since it simmers a good while. If you want it to be even better, make it a day or two ahead and let it improve in the fridge a bit more. Better yet, double the recipe and freeze several quart bags of it for a happy, later day!

And here's that crazy little julienne tool that will turn a raw zucchini into a lovely pile of pretend noodles, no cooking required! I still enjoy pasta, but there are days I'm feeling like an all veg meal, even if its spaghetti dinner, so here it is.


Lg Sweet Onion
3 Ripe Tomatoes
1 Small Zucchini 
1 Small Yellow Summer Squash
1 Small Red Bell Pepper
1 Cup Fresh Mushrooms
1 Carrot
3 Ribs Celery
3-4 Cloves Garlic
28 oz Can Tomato Sauce
10 oz Can Tomato Puree
6 oz Can Tomato Paste
thyme, oregano, basil
dried mushrooms, optl not really

SummerFest at the Food Network website is offering up the best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. You'll find me right there and we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  Next week watch for watermellon ideas, but in the meantime, check out these other great tomato recipes:
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Juicy Summer Heirloom Tomato Fruit Salad
Dishing: Homemade Tomato and Herbs Pasta Sauce 
Taste With The Eyes: Pomodorini e Mozzarella Ciliegine 
The Sensitive Epicure: Tiny Insalata Caprese
Weelicious: Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Bruschetta
Red or Green?: Nachos with Fresh Tomatoes, Pinto Beans and Chiles
Domesticate Me: Spaghetti with Cherry Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella and Basil
Blue Apron Blog: Marjoram-Garlic Chicken with Jersey Tomato Panzanella
The Heritage Cook: Caprese Salad and Caprese Pizza
Pinch My Salt: 20 Tomato Recipes
Feed Me Phoebe: Bloody Marias
Dishin & Dishes: Pesto Rosso (Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto)
Devour: Five Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipes
FN Dish: Tomato Recipes Worthy of a Dinner Party


  1. Lovely recipe! Love the secret ingredient and how to make it yourself!

  2. love the sauce...happy to know you through summer fest

  3. This is just the kind of thing we've been eating around here. Wonderful recipe!


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