As those gardens begin to dwindle, I recently discovered a recipe that will allow you to use tomatoes that are still coming on and even those cherry and grape ones that I have seen abundant on plants.
You can combine different types and even use those that may seem a bit soft.
This is a no-fail and incredible tasting tomato sauce that can have a myriad of uses for your cooking.
As we all become more conscious about what we eat and what goes into those products, this tomato sauce and its fresh taste should make you feel really good about any pasta dish you are making. Plus it’s a delicious way to use those last tomatoes of summer.
You will need the following:
Ripe tomatoes — any red variety
1 large onion chopped
2 ribs of celery chopped plus about 1/2-cup of inner leaves
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
Fresh or dried basil and oregano
Salt and pepper
Wash tomatoes; if there’s a bad spot, cut it out. If there’s too much core, cut it out as well. Quarter large tomatoes, leave cherry and grape tomatoes whole.
Put tomatoes in a food processor or blender.
Add 1/4-teaspoon salt. I added a half dozen fresh basil leaves from my outdoor plant.
Pulse about four to five times.
Now you have a couple of options. You can put the sauce in an airtight container and freeze or you can continue to make the following sauce:
Chop an onion, celery and leaves, if you like celery in your sauce. Warm several tablespoons of olive oil, put onions and celery in the skillet and let it begin to cook, add a chopped clove of garlic or some garlic powder and another quarter teaspoon of salt and black pepper.
Add the tomatoes and a little oregano — again, I had some fresh leaves from my yard. Dried oregano is fine.
This sauce will take about 10 minutes to cook.
Use it any way
Now you can do anything you want with it: sauce for pasta, a sauce for homemade pizza (may want to cook it down a bit more) or a sauce for a pasta casserole or lasagna. And yes, you could freeze this as well.
Prior to adding the onions, garlic and celery to the skillet, I browned three sweet Italian sausages in the skillet. You could brown hamburger or ground sausage.
I removed the sausage, drained grease from skillet, added the olive oil, onion, celery and garlic and began cooking. I cut the sausage into bit size pieces and returned to skillet.
Cook pasta; whole-wheat spaghetti is great.
Truthfully, all this took less than 30 minutes and I had dinner. I grated some Parmesan cheese and warmed some bread.
As we begin to move indoors when the weather cools, Friday and Saturday nights are great times to enjoy pizza. And again, if you make pizza at home you can make it both fun and healthy for your family. An added bonus is it can be cheaper than ordering pizza.
Actually, if you look around your garden you can probably find ingredients for a pizza: bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, etc. Definitely you can find all the ingredients you enjoy at the Farmers Market.
These options will provide you with a fresh, flavorful pizza.
Of course you can purchase already prepared pizza dough at supermarkets, but you can also make up dough and put it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Truthfully for around $10 you can create two large, fresh, delicious pizzas. Homemade dough can be made up even several days before. For later in the week, put the dough in the fridge in a sealed baggie that has been sprayed with cooking spray or into the freezer for other meals.
Note: Before putting any dough onto a pizza pan or baking sheet, lightly sprinkle cornmeal on the pan and it will make it easier to cut and remove.
Regular pizza dough
2-3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
In the large bowl of a stand mixer add the warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and let sit for five minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed at the end of time.
Attach a mixing paddle to the mixer. Mix in the olive oil, flour, salt and sugar on low speed for about a minute. Remove the mixing paddle and replace with a dough hook. Knead using the mixer and dough hook, on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you don’t have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand. If the dough seems a little too wet, sprinkle on a bit more flour.
Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so it gets coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place (75-85°F) until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1½ hours (or several hours longer, a longer rise will improve the flavor).
If you don’t have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Let the oven cool until it is just a little warm, and then place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.
At this point, if you want to make ahead, you can divide the dough in two pieces and freeze for up to two weeks.
Or remove cover from the dough and punch the dough down so it deflates a bit. Divide the dough in half. Form two round balls of dough. Place each in its own bowl, cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes.
Working one ball of dough at a time, flatten it with your hands on a lightly-floured work surface. Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to ½-inch thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch further. Let the dough relax 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired diameter — 10 to 12 inches. Use your palm to flatten the edge of the dough where it is thicker. You can pinch the edges if you want to form a lip.
Brush the top of the dough with olive oil (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Use your fingertips to press down and make dents along the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Let rest another 5 minutes.
2½ cups whole wheat flour plus more for dusting
1 packet (2 ¼ tsp) dry yeast
1 cup warm water
¾ tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
In a small bowl, combine yeast, water and 1 tsp sugar. Let sit for five minutes.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups flour, salt and remaining sugar. Make a well in the center and add yeast mixture and olive oil.
Stir using mixer paddle attachment or a spoon until the dough just comes together, then knead, either by hand or in a stand mixer fixed with the dough hook, for about five minutes (3-4 minutes if using stand mixer). Add remaining flour in one-tablespoon increments just until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl or is no longer sticky.
Shape dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to one hour.
Punch down risen dough, shape into a ball and place on a lightly floured pizza stone. Roll out into a circle of desired crust thickness and let rest about 10 minutes (at this time you can put on your desired toppings).
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place pizza in oven and bake about 10-15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are baked. Let pizza rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.