Monday, August 06, 2007

In the Sauce

I'm taking a last bit of vacation before things wind back up at work later in the month, and I think you can probably guess where I'm going to spend these two days off: in the kitchen.

I got started early this morning, determined to make a batch of vegetable pasta sauce before the weather got too hot and sticky for the day. So I started by dunking the tomatoes (all but one that I found at the farmers' market on Saturday) in boiling water, waiting for their skins to split, pulling them out and dunking them in cold water before peeling and crushing them (with my bare hands... makes me feel like one tough chick).

I sat back with my coffee for a few minutes before hunching over the cutting board again to prep all the vegetables and herbs that I would use in the sauce. Once the pot was warmed up again and I'd drizzled plenty of olive oil in it, I tossed in chopped local onions and sweet peppers, letting them saute slowly and get a little brown before I added the chopped garlic. After that, in went the chopped eggplant and carrots, along with a bit of salt and pepper.

After they had cooked for a few moments, getting softer and more fragrant, I dumped in the entire bowl of crushed tomatoes, some chopped basil and oregano and parsley, a bit of water, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and a super-secret ingredient to deepen the flavor.

And then... I sat back and let it simmer for about an hour, filling the apartment with its rich fragrance (and, alas, its heat and steam). That's it. No recipe, just lots and lots of local vegetables and herbs, allow to cook until their flavors combine into one happy sauce.

I let the sauce cook down until it was a bit thicker before I pulled out the funnel and ladled the sauce into two clean quart jars (plus a pint).

You'll notice that I left plenty of head room in the jars, because after a day or so in the refrigerator, they'll get transferred to the freezer for later use. But I did end up with about half a cup of sauce left over, which I saved for my lunch.

And what a lunch it was: local spinach pasta and local broccoli topped with this very fresh homemade sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Mmmm!

I hope to make more pasta sauce later in the summer... as well as can my usual allotment of tomatoes... but it's a promising start!


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