Last Spring my husband and I planted 6 raised garden beds. Ahead of time we planted tomatoes to get a good start on the season. We planted mostly heirloom tomatoes. We ended up filling 1-1/2 of the 4 foot by 8 foot beds with the tomato plants. Then to our surprise last year’s tomatoes seeded themselves in the old bed by the herbs. What do you do with all those tomatoes? You make sauce. One of my favorite recipes is from the show “Barefoot Contessa” - Nick and Toni's Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola -This is such a good recipe that I decided to use the basic idea of this marinara to can my Fresh Tomato Marinara.
Let me also add that last year we bought a Vitamix. What an awesome blender. It makes sauces so silky and creamy.OK so now I’m going to tell you how I made my Marinara sauce using the Vitamix, but at the end I will give you instructions for the sauce if you don’t have a Vitamix.
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil3 Large Yellow or White Onions, chopped
½-1Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper –depending on how spicy you like itSalt and Pepper
2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
12 Large Cloves Garlic –finely chopped2 Cups Vodka
3 Heaping Colanders of Tomatoes –cleaned and stemmed (Sorry, I didn’t weight them)6 Large Carrots –cleaned and peeled
Salt and Pepper again1 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves –cleaned and dried
1 Teaspoon Fennel seed1 Teaspoon Granulated Garlic
1 Teaspoon Granulated OnionSugar to taste –It balances out the acidity
Start by picking and prepping your tomatoes and carrots. Place them in Roasting pans and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees. (I roasted them in my smoker which has the ability to get this hot) When done you will see that the tomatoes are soft and there is a lot of liquid in the pans. This is called tomato water and is an important part of your marinara.
In a large deep pan, sauté the onions in the olive oil, adding the crushed red pepper, oregano, basil salt and pepper. Sauté until the onions are tender and sweet. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more. Turn off the heat. Add the vodka and slowly bring your mixture up to a simmer. Be careful. Vodka is flammable. It’s best to make sure the pan you’re using has high enough sides as not to splash out. Let it reduce all the way. Strain out the tomato water from the tomatoes and add to the pan of sautéed onions. I use a wire strainer to keep the seeds out. Now let the tomato water reduce almost completely. You will not believe how beautiful this tastes when reduced.
While the tomato water is reducing, add the roasted tomatoes to the Vitamix, peels, seed and all and carrots. If you don’t have a Vitamix, peel the skins off the tomatoes first then add to the blender. You will need to do this in batches. I usually do 3 batches, so I divide out the fennel seed, basil, granulated garlic and onion, then add about 1 tablespoon sugar to each blending batch, along with some salt and pepper. Pour each batch in a large pot and keep on simmer, stirring occasionally. Also keep an eye on your tomato water being careful not to burn the onions/garlic mixture. Once your tomato water is reduced by about 80%, you can add to the pot of blended tomatoes for a chunky tomato marinara, or you can choose to blend the reduced tomato water/onion mixture in the blender for a very silky consistency, and then add to the tomato sauce. Now taste it. It should not be acidic or lacking in salt. If so, add more salt, sugar or even pepper until the taste has balance.
Place 6 one quart jars and lids in the boiling canning pot to sterilize just before using for a few minutes. Fill each jar up to ¼ inch from top. Wipe the rim clean with a clean cloth then center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.Enjoy-