Togetherness has been the epitome of our life since moving to Tennessee. When we lived hundreds, and before that thousands, of miles away, we missed the birthday parties, the graduations, the lake days, and random afternoon barbecues. Now it consumes us in the most amazing way. We have this beautiful, quiet, country home to balance out a loud, buzzing, boisterous family, and it feels like our own little paradise. Recently we celebrated my mom’s 50th birthday. I could write for days on who my mom is, what she means to my brother and I, and how I admire her, but in an attempt to make this post a reasonable length, I will simply say – She is my best friend, and I can only hope that someday I will be as wonderful a mother as she is to me.
Nothing says love and family like hearty, fresh, tomato-based pasta. We decided to have a spaghetti dinner to celebrate, and it felt like home since I used more of the deliciously fresh tomatoes from Papa’s garden to make the Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce. This was my first attempt at homemade marinara sauce, and I was nervous but super excited to try the huge blend of fresh flavors to create something that my whole family loves so much. I ended up using about 10 – 15 lbs of fresh tomatoes from the garden. Papa grows a variety of tomatoes, so this marinara was a mix and my measurements weren’t tremendously precise (I’m kind of a messy person and never have been a fan of strict rules). I adapted this recipe from one I found over at Yummy Mummy Kitchen and I love it! I sliced all my tomatoes in half and cut out any little weird spots I didn’t like. I placed all these tomatoes on a baking sheet face down and roasted them for 10 minutes at 425. The skins slid right off after roasting, and I dumped the peeled, steaming tomatoes into a -very- large bowl. At this point you should let the tomatoes cool a while if you don’t want your skin to slide right off like the tomato skins – but I was in quite a hurry and jumped in a bit early. Some people toss the tomatoes in a blender, but I went the traditional Italian route, just for the experience, and mashed the tomatoes with my hands. A few burns and scalded spots later, I had an amazingly chunky, saucy, delicious looking sauce base, and the child-like joy that comes from making something messy and beautiful with your hands. I poured the tomatoes into a large stock pot, and simmered them with wine, garlic, onion, basil, and parmesan. The amazing thing about this sauce, is that you can add anything you want. More parmesan for a cheesier base, different spices, or red wine instead of white. I don’t think I added enough salt this time, and although delicious, I’ll definitely go with a heartier pinch of salt next time. With hand crushing the tomatoes, and simmering for several hours, this sauce is a bit more involved than some of the other recipes I’ve tried, but it is SO worth it. It made four large jars and keeps in the fridge for about a week, or in your freezer for anytime use.
Adapted from YummyMummyKitchen
10 – 15 lbs Fresh Tomatoes (a blend of your favorites)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Yellow Onions
9 Cloves Garlic
2 Cups White Wine (or 1 Cup of Red – and to be honest I didn’t really measure, I just used the remainder of a bottle I had in the fridge)
1 Parmesan Rind
1 Bunch of Fresh Basil
Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 425. Wash all tomatoes and slice them in half. Place the tomatoes face down on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, and place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The tomato skins should slide right off. Peel/Pull off all skins, and toss tomatoes into a large bowl. Allow to cool enough to handle (seriously…those tomato juices will burn!), and thoroughly smash tomatoes with hands.
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add your chopped onion to the stockpot and allow to soften, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and allow flavors to blend. Once very soft and aromatic, add white wine and keep simmering until most liquid is gone. Pour in the smashed tomatoes and keep simmering for 1 hour (stirring occasionally). Add your parmesan rind, and continue to simmer for 1 more hour. The volume should reduce by 1/2. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom. Add basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to your preference and stir. Remove from heat and either serve, or pour into mason jars for storage in fridge or freezer. Remember – if freezing – leave at least 1 inch in the top of the jar to allow for expansion. Allow the sauce to cool completely before refrigerating or freezing.