The last few weeks have been incredibly busy in the garden. Tis the season of tomatoes and we most certainly have an abundance this year. Every other day I pluck buckets of juicy red tomatoes from the vine, and each August the same exact thing happens: I panic. It’s really fulfilling to grow your own vegetables, but with every basket of produce I bring in from the garden, I’m hit with what I like to call the “oh crap- now what?” moment. Kalyn and I can’t give tomatoes away fast enough, let alone eat them ourselves, but every winter we are reminded why we set so many plants: organic canned goods.
It’s like I’m 25 going on 80, but I love canning. There is nothing better than eating fresh pasta sauce or making homemade pizzas in the winter, knowing you’ve controlled the entire process- no GMOs, no preservatives, no pesticides, etc. It’s really rewarding, not to mention- it tastes better and is most certainly healthier. If you have a garden or you like buying organic tomatoes while they’re in season, I’m sharing a couple easy recipes that have been keeping me busy lately. Try making this tangy pasta sauce- it’s really filling and includes peppers, onions, and garlic (also in season right now).
2 small/medium sweet onions, chopped
1 cup green bell peppers, chopped
1/2 cup banana peppers, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
8 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped (boil prior to peeling and remove core)
2 (12 ounce) jars tomato paste
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons canning salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a large pot; heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot over pasta immediately, or try canning (see below) and enjoy it this winter! Even if you aren’t craving the carbs now, you’ll be happy you prepared this sauce in advance when the cold weather arrives in a few short months.
For canning methods and tips, check out this tutorial from Ball; it’s one of the better resources I’ve found. So far, I’ve canned 40+ jars of tomato goodness, including: salsa, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and juice. Definitely give it a try!
If you’re looking for a summer tomato recipe, this is it. Cherry tomatoes are always good chilled tossed in fresh salads, but they’re also amazing served at room temp in one of my favorite light pasta dishes. You can grow cherry tomato plants in containers, no garden needed!
3 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup packed basil, cut into ribbons
6 oz mozzarella, diced into small cubes
In a large bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and cook pasta according to directions or al dente (typically 7-8 minutes). Toss the hot pasta with the tomato mixture; serve hot or at room temperature.
Sorry for the photo quality; I’m in the process of switching cameras and have been left with my iPhone. Fingers crossed the new one is here soon! Happy Monday, everyone.