Clean eating is important to me. I like our food to be organic, GMO free and as unprocessed as possible. But, that can take time and money, neither of which I have a lot of (you probably don’t either if you are reading my blog…. if you do…. I’m available for adoption!)
So, I’ve been really working on how to fit making things from scratch into my hectic schedule. We all know throwing some pasta in a pot of water and dumping some spaghetti sauce on it is one of the fastest meals a mom can get on the table when the little ones are chomping at the bit. I know moms who make sauce from canned tomatoes while the pasta is boiling, not quite as quick, but does require a bit more time at the stove.
Belonging to a CSA means we often have fresh tomatoes and herbs and this is what I want to feed my family. I wish my family would dive into tomatoes and just eat them raw by the bushel full, but, well…. I don’t so I can’t really expect them to! Marinara sauce, however, we all eat without complaint.
I still want the convenience of throwing some whole wheat pasta into a pot of boiling water, opening a jar of sauce and having dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.
Guess what – 4 out of 5 times I can! And the one time I can’t only takes me a grand total of 30 extra minutes broken up throughout the day.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 20-30 tomatoes
- 1 very large or two medium onions
- Seasonings to taste (I use: 3 Tablespoons each oregano, parsley, rosemary, basil. 1/4 cup crushed garlic or a few garlic cloves, sea salt and cracked black pepper)
- 4-5 canning jars, lids, rings*
- Canning tools (optional)
- Large stock pot
- Large crock pot
- Traditional blender or Stick Blender (got mine for Christmas and love it!)
The Night Before (5 minutes or less):
Tomatoes – OK, cheater tip here. I get a container or two of tomatoes each week at our CSA. We use a one or two of them fresh, the rest I pop into a bag in my freezer. Once I have two gallon size bags full, I know I’m ready for sauce!
Pull the tomatoes out of the freezer and let defrost over night. If you are using dried seasonings, pour out the amounts you like into a bowl and set aside. I also pull my onion out and set it on a small cutting board, ready to go in the am.
First Thing in Morning (10 minutes):
Turn the faucet onto warm water and pull your crock pot near. Rinse the tomatoes under warm water, the skins will slide off the defrosted tomatoes! Toss them into the crock pot as the skins come off and toss the skins.
Truth: I only did this once, to try it, I save the time and don’t care if there are skins in my tomato sauce, some people think it makes the sauce bitter. I don’t see a difference… Disclaimer: I am of NO Italian decent!
Throw into Crock Pot (less than 5 minutes):
If you seasoning is out, peal and chop the onion into quarters. Throw it all in over your tomatoes and turn the crock pot on low. Let it go all day!
If you are around, frequently even on busy days out, I stop at home for lunch, then I give it a quick stir. I have the girls give it a stir when then get home from school, and I stir it again when I get in. Otherwise, it just sits all day.
Dinner Time (10 minutes, plus boiling time):
Put a large stock pot full of water on the stove on high. While the water comes to a boil, use a Stick Blender and blend everything in the crock pot down to the consistency you like. This will take longer if you have to do it in batches with a traditional blender (tip: put a dish rag over your blender top, the heat of the tomatoes will make it splash out while blending).
Once the water comes to a boil, add your pasta. While your pasta is boiling, ladle marinara into canning jars*. I like wide mouth jars and usually fill 4 jars. You could use the large ones and fill 3, depending on how much sauce your family uses for a meal. Pop the lids and rings on.
Drain the pasta, rinse the pot and refill it with water. Bring the water up to a boil while you’re enjoying dinner with your family. During dinner clean up, submerge the jars of sauce in the boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Pull them out and let them cool. The lids will make a popping sound when they seal. Once cool, stick them in your pantry until that night when you just want to get something on the table quick!
Add it up: An extra 30 minutes broken up over the course of a day and I’ve got a great meal for my family now, and 4 more nights! Try it with your favorite marinara recipe.
Company coming? Brown up a pound of ground beef, add in a fresh diced tomato or two with a jar of your sauce. Serve over pasta with a salad and fresh bread and you’ve got a great tasting fresh and homemade meal. Plus, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!
Do you have a favorite marinara recipe to try this with?
*Disclaimer: This method of canning works for my family. I run my jars through a hot dishwasher, but you should use whatever sterilizing methods you feel are best. I’ve kept sauce for as much as 6 months this way, but results may vary. I’m not selling my sauce so my home canning methods work for us.