School has started, weather has cooled down (oh wait, no it hasn’t!), and by now your garden is overflowing! In the case of my Mom’s garden, it’s overflowing with cherry tomatoes. I think she planted 12 cherry tomatoes plants and let’s just say there are only so many tomatoes you can eat a day. I had this same issue with our garden last year and made some homemade spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes. I decided to give you a little tutorial on how to make the sauce and also meatballs to go with the sauce.
Last year, I used regular sized tomatoes and it was wonderful! This year, because we have so many cherry tomatoes, I used them to make the sauce. Obviously, the process is faster with larger tomatoes, but if you use the small ones you will get a sweeter, more savory sauce…and I might say the best spaghetti sauce I have had yet! I am not lying, I was so impressed with the flavor of it and I think it’s due to the cherry tomatoes.
For the sauce you will need:
A billion cherry tomatoes (or large tomatoes)
1 head of garlic, peeled
Bunches of fresh basil and oregano (or dried if you don’t have fresh)
1 large can of tomato paste
To start, wash and destem your tomatoes.
If you can’t tell from the picture above, the tomatoes are in one of those very large container that you purchase spring lettuce in, almost full to the top with cherry tomatoes.
To start, you need to remove the skin from all of the tomatoes. Now, this is a process…you will need about 30 minutes to do all this. This serves as your warning. Bigger tomatoes are a much faster process, but just didn’t taste as good. If you don’t remove the skin you will get chunks of skin that come off the tomatoes and curl up in the sauce.
Start out cutting an “X” into the bottom of each tomato. It helps in the skin removal process.
Get a large pot of water boiling.
And next to your pot put a large bowl of ice water.
Add some (not all) cherry tomatoes to the pot of boiling water and let boil for about 2 minutes.
Scoop the tomatoes out.
And immediately put them in the ice water. Notice how the skins have started to crack. That “X” you put on them helps make the skins pull away easier from the tomato. I tried it without the “X” and it just didn’t work very well. Do this to all of your tomatoes.
Next pull the skins off each tomato. (Like my hand model? It’s my husband helping out.)
Then as you are peeling, squeeze most of the seeds out into another bowl. I added this to the process from last year because I ended up with a ton of seeds in my sauce. Which doesn’t change the taste of it, just the look. You are inevitably going to end up with some seeds in your sauce no matter what you do.
When you are finished, you will end up with a squishy mess of tomatoes. (As a tip, throw all your seeds into the area you want to plant tomatoes the next year. You might get some volunteer tomatoes!)
Place all of the squishy tomatoes in a food processor or blender and puree.
You will end up with this lovely red sauce. (Notice the seeds in the sauce, just imagine how many there would be if I didn’t squeeze out a lot of the seeds??)
For the sauce, chop up a onion. I used a whole onion, but it’s up to you. It depends on if you like onions and how many tomatoes you have.
Chop up some garlic, fresh basil, and oregano. Again it depends on how many tomatoes you have and how much garlic you like.
Saute the onions until they are translucent.
Add in your chopped fresh garlic, basil and oregano. Saute for a few more minutes.
Add in your pureed tomatoes and stir.
Next, add in one large can of tomato paste. I use tomato paste to act as a thickener, add color, and a little more flavor. I opted for the name brand because I think some of the generic brand paste quality can be bitter.
Now the secret to homemade spaghetti sauce, sugar. Not many people know this, but depending on your tomatoes the acid level can be sharp. Taste your sauce. Does it taste very acidic or as I say “too tomato-y”? Add just a small amount of sugar to it, stir and taste again. Only add a little at a time. Too much sugar will ruin the sauce, so be careful! Once you have reached the right amount, turn the burner down to low and let simmer. Stir every so often.
For the meatballs, you will need:
1 pound of 93% lean ground beef
1 teaspoon of garlic
salt and pepper
Assemble your ingredients and chop your onion and garlic. I used about half of an onion, but it depends of how much you like onions. If you don’t like onions, just use a couple teaspoons of onion powder.
Combine onion with ground beef, about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, 1 eggs, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning, and a little salt and pepper in a bowl.
You will end up with this meaty mixture that needs to be formed into balls.
Pour a little olive oil in a large skillet and heat up. (You might not have to do this if you used fattier meat.) Place the balls in the skillet.
Brown the meatballs and turn on each side. (I was busy with the kiddo, so I turned these too late on one side, if you can’t tell by the darker side.) While this is cooking, make your pasta of choice. In about 8 minutes, after you keep turning your meatball should be cooked through. To make sure, split one in half and make sure they aren’t pink.
Combine your meatballs with the sauce that has been simmering.
Serve the sauce and meatballs over the pasta of your choice with some garlic bread, and a nice glass of red wine! Enjoy!!