Tag Archives: passata

Harvest Monday

October 20, 2014

Today is the date of our first frost (zone 7b) and apparently this winter is supposed to be a doosey. However, we are still in the 40s at night (70s during the day) and I, for one, am THANKFUL! 🙂

Because of this, we are still able to harvest peas, tomatoes, peppers, and a few raspberries.DSC_5778Other than fresh eating, the peas are frozen for later use.DSC_5780 DSC_5776 DSC_5777We ran out of marinara/passata sauce this week so I made another batch with 2.5 bags of frozen tomatoes, picked earlier this summer.DSC_5783

Also, because we have not reached first frost, I have not had to:

  • rip up the tomato patch including peppers, tomatoes, and marigolds
  • harvest the rest of the sweet potatoes, which is good because I have NO CLUE where I am going to store all of those!
  • cover any of my lettuces, spinach, or root crops that were planted late & will need protection
  • cover my strawberry plants for the winter

And for all of this, I am thankful. I also see all of the work ahead of me and I am overwhelmed just thinking about it! I have spent the week getting out winter clothes for our family of eight. Not fun. Next week, I’m going to have to jump on my ‘prep the garden for the winter’ list.

The covered kale is really loving this cool weather. We have enjoyed many kale salads each night since not many of my spinach seeds sprouted and even less of my lettuce seeds. All is well. We love kale! 🙂 DSC_5787 DSC_5790(From the garden: kale, green beans, sweet potatoes, peppers (in the bean burger). Also made at home – whole wheat bread)

Are you able to continue harvesting? Check out what other gardeners are up to at Daphne’s Dandelions for her weekly Harvest Monday!

fyi: these pics are NOT from Nieto Photography. I took the pics from my husband’s camera this week & asked him to send them to me so I could post. He is so incredibly busy this time of year, he forgot to take his tag off of it 🙂


Thick, Easy Marinara Sauce

September 30, 2014

I have always had trouble growing tomatoes. I am getting better but have not ‘arrived’ yet. For this reason, I have not ventured out to find a really good marinara sauce. This summer, I decided that would be my goal: to find a perfect marinara sauce for our family. I was quite skeptical because my marinara recipe had to be

  • easy
  • smooth
  • thick
  • and easy… 😉

Smooth is pretty easy to come by but thick and easy do not tend to go hand-in-hand. The last marinara sauce I made was easy but only tasted okay. And I broke our crockpot in the process 😦

I ran across a Passata recipe from Chiot’s Run (wonderful blog) and decided to try it out. She is very knowledgeable when it comes to animals, gardening, and cooking so I trusted her comments about the sauce. From what I can tell, Passata and marinara are pretty much the same thing and we use marinara sauce for everything (pizza, pasta, making sloppy joes) so I went for it.

I do not want to heat the house up during the summer so when tomatoes come in, I just stick them in a freezer bag, whole. I used two gallon freezer bags full of tomatoes to make two quarts of thick, smooth sauce. There were only a few paste tomatoes. Most were large, slicing heirlooms and lots of cherry tomatoes.

I used the same ingredients as she does but I did a few things differently:

STEP 1: Line ingredients on pan. My tomatoes were mostly frozen still. I only let them defrost enough to be able to cut them in half.

Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0013STEP 2: Roast 2 hours at 300. Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0039Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0041(YUM!)

Step 3: Scoop everything into the Vitamix with a slotted spoon. Save juice as a broth for soups.

Step 4: Pour sauce into jars and freeze (an idea I also got from her).
Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0042Look how thick! The spoon was basically vertical. Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0044 It was super thick. I had to use the plunger to blend it all up. There was no need to cook it longer in a pan/pot, as recommended.

The verdict: Wonderful! Even my daughter, who hates tomatoes, loved it 🙂 I still tasted a slight tomatoey taste that you don’t taste in store bought tomato sauce but I assume it is just because there is no sugar in my sauce. If there is anything else I can do other than add sugar, please let me know!

Highlights of the recipe/process:

  1. I can use frozen tomatoes and the consistency does not change
  2. the oven is on a fairly low temp (roasting is normally done on higher temps)
  3. the whole process takes about 2.5 hrs, including clean up (rather than taking all day)
  4. no crockpots were broken in the process
  5. I only used roasting pans and my Vitamix to make it (no pots, no food mills, etc.)
  6. and it makes a THICK, not to mention tasty sauce

I think we have a winner! Seriously, it is so difficult to find a good tomato sauce that can be used for pizza, spaghetti, whatever! This is it (I’m pretty sure)! Thank You Chiot’s Run! 🙂

Just to reiterate:

  • NO Peeling
  • NO Food mills
  • NO canning
  • LOVE IT.

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursdays and Simple Lives Thursday, hoping to help some other struggling marinara-maker 🙂