I’ve been craving simplicity in my life recently–streamlined routines, a curated ‘capsule wardrobe’, and recipes that require minimal ingredients. While the former two are definitely still a work in progress, I’ve been better lately about ditching complicated dishes in favor of recipes that combine a few fresh, seasonal ingredients. So imagine my glee when Peanut and I arrived at the farmers’ market yesterday and Farmer Al’s tomatoes had just been marked down to $1/lb. Yippee! Unfortunately, Peanut was in the Ergo, so I wasn’t able to take a case home (there’s always next week, though:). But I grabbed all I could carry and I set off home to pick the last of my basil for a fairly simple, lazy tomato sauce. When I get the case o’ tomatoes next week, I’ll multiply the amounts by five and make enough to freeze for the next few months.
The key to this sauce is to use the freshest ingredients that you can find–preferably local, organic tomatoes and basil. Of course, it would be wonderful if we could all grow our own, but many of us just don’t have the time, space or inclination. So…to the farmers’ market! At the end of the summer, you can often get pretty great deals on boxes or cases of tomatoes, particularly towards closing time.
4 lbs. roma or field tomatoes (heirloom are great, too, but require a longer cooking time because of higher water content)
4 cloves of garlic
1 generous handful of fresh picked basil
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
A pat of butter
Roughly chop your tomatoes and onions.
Finely chop garlic.
Chop basil leaves roughly (I put them in a mug and use kitchen scissors for this).
Throw the butter in your pot on a medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for about 8 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Give it a stir every couple of minutes so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and bay leaves. Cover your pan and bring to a gentle boil. Turn heat back down to a medium-low heat and let simmer uncovered for 40-55 minutes (I like to let mine go for 55 minutes for a rich, thick sauce.) Every now and then, smash the tomato bits with the back of your spoon and give the sauce a stir. About 5 minutes before the end of cooking, add the chopped basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
-Add ground meat or bacon and eat over spaghetti squash (my fave!)
-Add canned tuna, capers, black olives, and a chili pepper and eat over zucchini ‘noodles’
-Use as a pizza sauce (I like the Primitive Homemaker’s plantain-based pizza crust).
-Make this yummy Pizza Pie recipe
Leave the sauce in the fridge overnight before freezing so that the flavors have a chance to get to know each other a bit better. The sauce should last for a couple of months in the freezer in a sealed container.