Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The First Marinara

Each week in August our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) provided us with a small shopping back of tomatoes. Over the past few weeks I've become an expert at blanching tomatoes. I've even made some decent restaurant style salsa in the blender. Having concocted a salsa I love, I'm turning my attention to marinara. For my first attempt, I'm taking these 4 lovely ripe tomatoes and turning them into marinara...



Yup.  You got it.  I'm winging it.  I cook a lot and I know what's in marinara, so how hard can it be?  Ha!

I began by blanching and peeling my tomatoes.  This is the step with which I'm the most comfortable.  I don't like eating tomato skins so they simply must go.  Blanching the tomatoes seems to have the added positive effect of removing any blemishes and bad spots as I'm peeling the skins off.  Once peeled I coarsely chopped the tomatoes and set them aside.

Taking inventory of all the other produce littering my counter top, I found bell peppers, okra, onions, scallions, jalapenos, cilantro, banana peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and basil.  While I like lots of ingredients in my recipes I limited myself to the bell peppers, onions, scallions and basil.  I diced and sauteed the first three ingredients in olive oil, added the basil, minced garlic, low sodium chicken stock and my tomatoes.  The resulting mix looked promising.

After simmering for an hour, I got impatient and took a potato masher to the bubbling mixture.  Another 2 hours and I ended up with a think chunky good smelling sauce.

Just enough for my Monday night dinner!  While it was adequate, I was underwhelmed.  I think my first mistake was adding the bell pepper.  The second...  leaving out the salt.  However, I can say that adding some Parmesan cheese really brightened up the flavor.  Last but not least, seeding the tomatoes might also help.  There were a lot more seeds than I expected

All in all, I'm happy with  my first attempt as marinara.  I'll be trying again next week.  My goal is to find a recipe that I like enough to can a bunch of it for later this winter when I'm no longer overwhelmed in fresh produce.  Maybe another good start would also be to do some reading of existing marinara recipes!

Do you have any suggestions?

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