The bounty of the produce stand

Labor Day marks the end of summer which always makes me sad.  I feel like I wish I had spent more time at the pool, played more tennis and played  more golf.  I also feel that I need to rush to use the great vegetables from the produce stand before they close up shop for the winter.  I went a little wild buying tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers.  I’m making two different tomato sauces to freeze – one cooks on the stove and is mild for using on pizzas and lasagna while the other cooks in the oven and is zestier, wonderful on pasta with fresh mozzarella cheese.  I’m also making gazpacho.  Here are the recipes:

Tomato Sauce

  • 6 lbs of tomatoes, cored and quartered (I threw in some cherry tomatoes because we had a bunch from our plant)
  • 15 – 20 basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Put tomatoes in a heavy sauce pan with a lid and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes until juice is released from tomatoes.  Using a food mill, strain the mixture so that you have sauce.  Cook sauce over low heat until thickened to desired consistency.  Stir in olive oil, salt and pepper and freeze in small containers.  (You can also freeze in ice cube trays.)
Roasted Tomato Sauce
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 7 – 8 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TB capers
  • 2 tsp anchovy paste
in a glass baking dish toss tomatoes with olive oil garlic and red pepper.  Roast at 375 for about 45 minutes.  Stir in basil and salt and roast for another 15 minutes.  Stir in capers and anchovy paste and roast for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Freeze until ready to use.
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 TB wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 cup minced parsley
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 – 3 tomatoes, diced
Combine all ingredients.  I usually puree about 1/2 the vegetables and leave the other half finely chopped to give the soup texture.
Next weekend I’ll make ratatouille!

Planning ahead for Ravioli with Tomato Sauce

I am lucky enough to live in Baltimore and have access to wonderful Italian markets.  My favorite is Trinacria on Paca Street.  Fabulous fresh Italian meats and cheeses and every type of fresh pasta.  The freezer case is filled with amazing raviolis – Spinach, Artichoke, Lobster, Mushroom, etc.  Every time I go, I buy a couple to stick in the freezer.  Making ravioli looks like fun – I have many cookbooks with recipes for it.  Not practical if you work full time and even if I didn’t, I don’t think I could beat Trinacria.  I will take a few minutes tonight to make a homemade sauce for tomorrow’s pasta and it will make enough to freeze for other nights.  If making the sauce doesn’t appeal to you, buy your favorite pasta sauce and take the rest of the night off!

Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • 3 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
  • 3 TB fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put tomatoes and basil in a heavy pot and cook covered over medium heat.  Stir every few minutes to prevent sticking;.  After about 10 minutes the tomatoes should have released their juice.  Pass through a food mill.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the olive oil. 

Makes about 2 1/2 cups. 

Refrigerate or freeze. 

Tomorrow night – walk in the door and boil water for the ravioli and reheat your sauce and you have dinner on the table.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and congratulate yourself!