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I have devoted every Monday for the past month to make a Homemade Spaghetti Sauce that is *husband approved*…here it is! I came across the secret in Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen” (Scribner: New York, 2004):
A method that home cooks sometimes use is to halve or quarter tomatoes, then bake them in a slow oven to remove water, and finally cook them relatively quickly into a sauce. This technique minimizes the mixing of enzymes and targets, so cells stay relatively intact, and relatively little green aroma develops. (p. 624)
That’s when I got my breakthrough! I was trying to make Spaghetti Sauce via my Fresh and Fast Pizza Sauce Recipe, but the flavor was all wrong (too “green”, apparently). To get a traditional tomato sauce flavor, the tomatoes must first be baked!
Tomatoes are baked in an oven for a few hours; when cool, the dehydrated tomatoes are combined in a food processor with the other ingredients. The contents of the food processor are then poured into a blender to get a conventional sauce texture. The resulting Spaghetti Sauce may be stored in a glass jar in the ‘fridge to use later, or immediately heated and served.
To make for a speedy dinner, Homemade Spaghetti Sauce may be prepared in advance, or the tomatoes may be roasted in advance and stored in old glass spaghetti sauce jars in the ‘fridge. Roasting tomatoes that are about to go off (squishy but not rotten) is a good way to prevent throwing money down the drain. You could also get into the routine of roasting tomatoes when you bring them home from the market.
While organic produce is recommended, it is better to use what you have available than to not make the recipe at all. Homemade beats store-bought; your sauce will be more nutritious and preservative-free! If you can buy anything organic, buy celery. It is one of the worst offenders for carrying pesticides.
This recipe makes enough sauce for four hearty helpings (halve the portion size for children). Serve on top of organic whole wheat pasta, add ground turkey cooked with olive oil and ground fennel, and serve with steamed organic broccoli or organic green beans tossed in butter and salt.
- 2.5 to 3 lbs of fresh, ripe, local tomatoes (buy organic if you can)
- Apple Cider Vinegar (to clean tomatoes)
- 2 small organic carrots (or 1 large)
- 2 small stalks organic celery (or 1 large)
- 3 medium cloves of garlic (use more or less to taste)
- 1/2 to 1 cup homemade chicken stock, depending on desired consistency
- 1/2 TBSP (1.5 tsp) organic honey
- 1 TBSP organic dried oregano
- 1 TBSP organic dried basil
- 1 tsp organic onion powder
- 1 tsp Real Salt
- 1/8 tsp (pinch) organic ground black pepper
- Large bowl or tub
- Vegetable Peeler
- Sharp Knife
- Cutting Board
- Baking Tray
- Parchment paper
- Food Processor (optional)
- Large Saucepan (avoid non-stick)
- Wooden Spoon
- Measures: 1/2 cup, 1 TBSP, 1/2 TBSP, 1 tsp, 1/2 tsp, 1/8 tsp
- Pre-heat oven according to desired roasting time: 350-F for roasting approximately 2 hours, 300-F for roasting approximately 3 hours, 250-F for roasting approximately 4 hours. Higher temperatures may lead to burnt edges/skins. Lower temperatures will dehydrate the tomato more effectively but may not remove the “green” flavor altogether. Feel free to experiment (and tell me what works in the comments below). Place a sheet of parchment paper on the baking tray.
- Soak tomatoes in a large bowl of lukewarm water with 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar for 10 minutes; rinse; pat dry. Using the sharp knife and cutting board, chop tomatoes into quarters or eighths depending on size. Place tomato pieces on the baking tray and place in the oven. Tomatoes are done when the pools of juice around them turn dark brown, but the skins are not (yet) burned.
- Peel carrots with the vegetable peeler, rinse and trim; rinse and trim the celery; crush the garlic cloves (I use a glass mug and give them a good whack!) and remove their papery skins.
- Allow tomatoes to cool. Add all ingredients (except the vinegar) to a food processor and blend until the mixture is homogeneous. If you have a powerful blender, you may be able to skip this step. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the ingredients as finely as possible.
- Transfer the processor contents to a blender to get a smooth consistency.
- Pour the blender contents into a sauce pan and heat on medium-low heat for 10 minutes or so.
- Serve and enjoy!