I grew up in Southwest Ontario, where the summers are hot and humid and long. I always wanted to have a full garden brimming with vegetables and fruits that I could tend to all summer long, then harvest all my goodies and can and freeze the full flavour of fresh vegetables for later in the winter. So when we finally got into a house of our own and built the garden boxes I'd been dreaming of having I was super excited for my first full growing season.
Oh but I forgot one thing - I moved to Alberta - where the summers aren't so hot and humid - and certainly not as long.
Last year, my Mom and Dad visited in the early spring and Dad and David built me two 8' x 4' cedar boxes in which to grow my vegetables. I grew many tomatoes, and peppers. The plants did really well - right up until an early frost wrecked most of the plants, and also the fruits that were waiting to ripen.
This year after starting all my plants inside from seeds - my kitchen was over taken by 40 6inch pots!
I was very excited to plant what was is now 7 cedar boxes ( David and his brother Jesse built me more boxes since I loved the first two so much ). It was June 3rd and I thought I waited long enough, I planted all my perfect little plants. Within an hour of finishing and cleaning up, I looked outside to see a freak hail storm beating my little babies into the reality of what is Calgary's sporadic weather patterns. They mostly survived and the ones that didn't I replaced with nursery bought plants.
This fall, unlike last fall, to ensure I didn't lose a single tomato or pepper to an early frost. I pulled all my 34 tomato plants and 8 pepper plants out of the garden, roots intact and hung them upside down in my garage to ripen on the vine.
This weekend - just in time for Thanksgiving - I was able to harvest 15 or more lbs of juicy, ripe tomatoes.
I decided to make a pure, simple, traditional marinara sauce. Many times I make thick, or chunky tomato sauces that are full of basil and oregano and probably cooked for way too long. The marinara sauce that I wanted to make this time would only have four ingredients - perfectly ripened tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and salt.
Tomato Harvest Marinara Sauce
10 lbs very ripe tomatoes - roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 head of garlic - roughly chopped
Salt to taste.
Heat a dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat and add the olive oil and when the oil gets warm, add your garlic.
Stir frequently to make sure the garlic doesn't get too dark. Once the garlic is evenly and lightly browned, add the chopped tomatoes. while stirring constantly bring the pot up to a boil.
Then, reduce the heat to low and cover. Let the sauce cook for only 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally to ensure the sauce isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste test the sauce, and salt to your liking. You could also puree the sauce if you want a perfectly smooth sauce, or leave it slightly chunky like I did.
At this point you can use the sauce anyway you choose. We made pasta. And canned the rest.
Saturday nights in this house are typically reserved for Pizza night, so to convince David that making something new with this sauce was a good idea was no easy task. The resulting dish however, might mean we need to choose a night every week for pasta night too!
I made homemade meatballs, and sauteed some green and red peppers and red onions, cooked some brown rice pasta and crumbled some goat cheese. Then served each component up family style and we both layered the ingredients into our bowls - delish! It was by far the best pasta I've ever had - even if I do say so myself.
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