Saturday, October 25, 2008

What to do with a Load of Tomatoes, Part 1: Spaghetti Sauce

The tomato harvest was late here in the Northwest, but when it came, it really came! As I mentioned in my last couple of posts, I'm inundated with tomatoes. So, let's take a look at things you can do with too many tomatoes, besides throw them at people you don't like.

Last weekend's project here at Camp Crum was spaghetti sauce--a big vat of it. I use my mother's recipe, or the closest approximation I can find. My mother, like so many old-time cooks, didn't really follow recipes for things she made frequently, and the dishes evolved as she experimented. A few years ago, after she gave up cooking from scratch, I asked her to write the recipe down so I could carry on the family tradition. Here's what she gave me:

1 cup chopped onion
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
32 oz. tomatoes, fresh or canned. If using fresh, peel them according to the instructions in my previous post. No need to chop them - just drop 'em in whole.
16 oz. tomato sauce
8 oz. tomato paste
2 tbsp fresh basil (snipped) or 2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp fresh oregano (snipped) or 1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
12 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 lb. ground beef

Brown the ground beef, then add all ingredients to a big stock pot and simmer for at least a couple of hours.

I usually triple the recipe (which makes about 8 quarts), then can or freeze the extra. Even though it's more work, I prefer to can, because then I can make dinner super-quickly. It takes quite awhile to thaw a quart of frozen spaghetti sauce, even in a microwave.

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