This time of year for canning is a bit odd. While it has cooled off enough that I’m not miserable canning and my favorite fruit and vegetable is in season (TOMATOES!), I’m losing my canning drive and inspiration. The first time I made Ball Canning’s basil-garlic tomato sauce, I was excited that it didn’t require pre-peeling all the tomatoes and figured I could knock it out in a few hours. I rapidly came to the realization that there was no way my largest pot could hold 20 pounds of tomatoes. I dirtied every pot, liberally smearing my white counters and stove top with tomatoes, as I tried to cook down all those tomatoes, and ensure equal distribution of the ingredients. I gave up after a few hours, packed everything away in my fridge, and decided to start again the next afternoon. Day 2 showed me that putting tomato puree through a colander was an impossible task, but pureeing whole tomatoes with the skins on left the sauce bitter. I spent an hour burning my finger tips as I fished peels out of sauce and pureed the denuded fruit in batches. The final defeat was the fact that the recipe says it made 7 1/2 pints, when in fact it made 7 1/2 quarts. Slight difference there, y’all.
Anyways, my disaster is to your benefit. This version might take a little more initial prep, but is a lot less frustrating in the long run. And this winter when you pull out a jar of farm fresh tomato sauce on a cold night, you’ll be glad you did this. When you’re ready to eat, add a pinch a sugar before you heat. And as always, follow standard canning procedures for preparing jars and lids.
- 10 lbs Roma or San Marzano tomatoes
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 small)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 8 tbsp commercial lemon juice, divided
- 4 tsp salt, divided
- 4 quart canning jars OR 8 pint canning jars, with lids and rings
- Working in small batches (~2 lbs), drop tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer to a bowl of ice water.
- Over a trash bowl, pull off tomato skins and squeeze out seeds,then set aside tomatoes.
- Heat oil in a large nonreactive pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Puree sauce in batches, return to the pot and bring back to a simmer.
- Transfer marinara to prepared jars, add 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt to each pint jar (2 tbsp and 1 tsp respectively for quarts), wipe off rims, and close off with prepared lids and rings.
- Process in a hot water bath for 30 minutes for pints, 45 for quarts.
I grew up eating tomato soup made two different ways: heated up Campbell’s condensed mixed with water, or for a special treat, mixed with milk. The first time I heard about gazpacho, I was totally disgusted by the thought of cold tomato soup. But, when I saw it on a menu during my first trip to Spain, I figured when in Rome (or when in Madrid, to be exact.) In Spain this is a quintessential summer dish, that exceeds the sum of its ingredients. If you’re still icked out by cold tomato soup, think of it as a liquid salad or savory smoothie.
- 2 large tomatoes, quartered
- 2 medium bell peppers, deseeded
- 1 medium cucumber, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth and if desired, chill until ready to serve. Serves 4 as a side dish.
It’s the peak of the summer harvest right now, which means it’s time to make pistou. What’s pistou? It’s the Spanish version of ratatouille, and is easier for me to spell. (Aren’t you glad you asked?) Anyways, whatever you call it, it is a classic Mediterranean summer dish filled with fresh veggies that is already vegetarian, so no modifications were needed.
It does call for a bit more of oil than I usually use, and while I’ve tried to cut it back, the eggplant becomes unhappy. And while I also try and cut back on longer prep steps, peeling and salting the eggplant is pretty necessary: otherwise, it can be bitter. By itself, it makes a nice but light dinner. The traditional Spanish way of serving this dish is to poach eggs in it just before serving. When I’m short on eggs, like this week, I add some plain Greek yogurt for protein or have a side of bread and cheese. My sister who first introduced me to ratatouille serves it over orzo and topped with parmesan or goat cheese. However you do it, it’s yummy and packed full of veggies.
- 1 large or 2 medium eggplant, peeleed and diced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 6 medium tomatoes, diced, or 2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
- salt to taste
- 4 eggs (optional)
- Put eggplant in a colander in the sink or over a bowl, salt generously and set aside for half an hour. When ready, throughly rinse the eggplant and shake off most of the excess water.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant and soft, about 1 to 2 minutes, then sprinkle with salt.
- Add the eggplant and cook until most of the oil is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and bell pepper, stir until coated and evenly mixed.
- Add the tomatoes, juice and and all, stir into the pot and bring to a simmer.
- Allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, and adjust salt to taste.
- If desired, crack one egg at a time into a mug, then gently pour into the pistou, taking care to not break the yolks.
- Poach until whites are set and yolks are at their desired hardness.
- Serve with 1 egg per bowl.
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side.
I don’t make this recipe very often, but every time I do I remember how much I love it. It only requires what I consider to be pantry staples, is fast and simple to make, lots of nutrition and have I mentioned how delicious it is? Because it is. If you’re a meat eater, I’d suggest this as a side to some spicy sausage, or even throw the sausage in for a one dish dinner. I like to have a salad or sauteed greens on the side for a little extra color.
Simple Black-Eyed Peas and Rice
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 cup rice, uncooked (brown is delicious)
- 1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed & dried, or 2 cups cooked beans, no liquid reserved
- hot sauce, preferably Tobasco (optional)
In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until until soft, about 2 to 3 additional minutes. Add next 4 ingredients, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Stir occasionally, and cook until rice is done, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add hot sauce to taste. Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side dish..