Monthly Archives: March 2012

Easy Marinara Sauce


This is going to be a recipe sans photo, since it got gobbled up too quickly by the two of us for me to photograph it.  But since I posted about the deliciousness of it on Facebook, my friends have been demanding I post the recipe, so here goes.

I got a food mill for Christmas, which I’d been wanting to put to use.  Not being consumers of mashed potatoes, baby food or applesauce, there were few things I could make using this shiny new tool.  I’d wanted to make my own tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, since many sauces have onion powder added to them, which SB is allergic to.  On top of that, jarred pasta sauces are something I like to use for certain recipes, although after this recipe, I don’t know that I’ll ever buy a jarred sauce again.  Many jarred sauces have added corn syrup in addition to onions, neither of which SB can eat, so I set out to make my own.  I needed the recipe to be easy, tasty, and something I could make regularly.  I’ll say this:  as long as I have access to fresh Roma tomatoes, I’ll make this recipe over and over.

Here’s how I did it.  You will need:

  • about 2 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut lengthwise
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 extra for sauteeing the garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped into small pieces but not minced (I like mine a bit more rustic)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil (you can increase this as you like)
  • kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Meanwhile, prepare a rimmed baking sheet by spraying it with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.  Arrange the halved tomatoes in rows on the sheet, and drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes so that they are lightly coated with the oil.  Sprinkle salt over the tops of the tomatoes, and place the pan on the middle rack of the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the skins just start to brown and the tomatoes are nice and soft–keep an eye on the tomatoes, because you don’t want them to get too brown.

Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool for about 30 minutes.  For the next step you can elect to use either a food mill, or a blender.  I didn’t want skin or seeds in my sauce, so the food mill was perfect.

I put the fine grinding disc into my food mill because I wanted a smooth sauce.  Placing the food mill over a bowl, put the tomatoes in (carefully so you don’t lose any juice!) and turn the handle so that you can get as much lovely puree as possible.  If you use a blender, just put all the roasted tomatoes in the blender and puree.

Finally, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan or other pan (I used a Dutch oven since I was going to heat meatballs in it with the sauce) and lightly saute the garlic.  Once the garlic softens, add the puree, tomato paste, and basil.  Stir over medium heat so that the sauce thickens up a bit.  Cook over medium-low heat so the flavors meld and serve with your favorite pasta.

This recipe made about 2 cups of sauce, which I served over homemade meatballs and al dente spaghetti.

Super Easy Vegetable Soup


The week of Ash Wednesday, I decided I’d eat meatless for every meal. I figured since Lent was about sacrifice, I should give up something for the short term, and something for the long term. So I decided that meat would be nixed for the week, and that I’d give up diet sodas for the duration of Lent. The challenge was trying to eat enough different things without getting bored with my food (which I did, quickly), and while getting enough protein (which I didn’t do). I started that Sunday before Ash Wednesday, and finished up on the following Saturday. By the time that next Sunday rolled around, I was ravenous for meat–my body craved protein, and specifically, I craved meat-derived protein. Needless to say, I don’t think I could be vegetarian, and I certainly could not be vegan.

Last week, I had a craving for a really good vegetable soup. I decided while I was doing the shopping that I’d put together a big pot of it and eat on it all week long. Since SB is trying to eat a Paleolithic-style diet, which eschews legumes and tubers, he wouldn’t be eating this soup, so I was able to put onions in it. The final product was outstanding, and was great for lunches and dinners all week long.

A really simple, flavor-packed vegetable soup that could easily be made vegetarian with the substitution of vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth used here.

Here is how I did it. You will need:

  • 8 small creamer potatoes, skins on, washed and cut into quarters
  • 1 24-ounce jar/can tomato puree, plus water to rinse out the can/bottle
  • 5 carrots, washed, cut into coins (about 3 cups)
  • 4 cups cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups frozen green beans
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chicken base
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add your onions, celery, garlic and parsley. Saute these vegetables until they are soft, but do not brown them. Next, add your chicken stock and tomato puree plus water to rinse out the jar/can–you want all that yummy tomato flavor in the soup.

Add the potatoes, green beans, corn kernels, carrots, cabbage, spinach and pepper. Add enough water to cover everything and stir thoroughly to mix. The soup will be very thick, almost like a stew. Allow this to come to a slow bubble, and then add in the chicken base. Stir this in and allow it to blend in with the soup. Reduce your heat to low-medium-low and allow the soup to simmer for about an hour.

Serve while hot. I cooked mine in a 6-quart stockpot, and had more than enough soup for the week. In fact, I froze what I did not eat (about 2 1/2 quarts) for later. This soup reheats beautifully, and is quite good. It could be made completely vegetarian with the substitution of vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock. Really, you could use any vegetables you like…your palate is your limit!