Feeling Saucy

Not everyone is thrilled with a meatless dinner, but David loved the zucchini lasagna I made. I will also tell you he loved it even more as leftovers. What is it about certain foods always tasting better the next day? Perhaps the grilled Italian sausages that accompanied the leftover zucchini lasagna also helped.

Rather than using lasagna noodles, I used zucchini slices that I cut lengthwise, brushed with olive oil and then broiled in the oven, layering them with my homemade tomato sauce (thanks to all the "seconds" I collected at the farmers market this summer), basil and wet mozzarella. Placed it in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes and dinner was ready.

It was ridiculously fabulous and oh-so-simple.

When I was making the zucchini lasagna, I remembered a Cowgirl Granola customer who asked me to share my tomato sauce recipe. So here it is, Kim.

Homemade tomato sauce is a staple in our home. I like to make tons of it during the summer and freeze it in quart containers for those cold nights when we're craving Italian food and a can of tomatoes just won't cut it. I am not a fan of the "tinny" flavor of canned tomatoes.

Believe me when I tell you this versatile sauce will be your best friend.

Top it on grilled or sauted chicken breasts. Make steak Parmigiana like David did the other night. Or anything Parmigiana — zucchini, eggplant, chicken or veal. Whip up some pasta with tomato sauce and sauteed shrimp or meatballs — even our fabulous tuna meatballs

And while all of these ideas sound tempting, sometimes there's nothing better than a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce and freshly grated Parmesan.

The trick is to use fresh homegrown tomatoes. (Although you probably won't need 18 lbs. of these babies.) They are still available at our farmers markets, and hopefully yours as well. My suggestion would be to saunter up to the farmer, crack a big smile and bat your eyelashes and ask for a box of seconds. Or whatever seconds he or she has at the time.


The best part of this recipe is that I don't even peel the tomatoes, which makes it unbelievably quick to throw together. And remember it's even better the next day.

I'm guessing that when you're craving some homemade tomato sauce on a cold winter night, you'll thank me.

Buen provecho!


Tomato Sauce
The Cowgirl Gourmet

Print recipe

This sauces freezes incredibly well and can be doubled or tripled according to how many pounds of tomatoes you scored or have in your garden. Just increase the amount of onion, carrots, garlic and red chile flakes proportionately. Rather than increase the amount of salt, use your own taste to decide how much more salt you need, and add it a little at a time, allowing it to blend well before adding more. The carrots really help to add a touch of sweetness to the sauce. If you want to add herbs, do so just before serving, but do not add herbs if you are going to freeze the sauce.

Makes several quarts

5-7 lbs. homegrown tomatoes, washed and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
2-3 garlic cloves, diced
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil (I use extra virgin, but regular olive oil is fine)
Fresh herbs such as basil and oregano, optional, but add at the very end

Add 3 Tablespoons olive oil to pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium-high and add the chopped onion and carrots. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, stir and let cook about 5-7 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes and stir to combine.


While the onions and carrots are cooking, begin chopping the tomatoes.

Once the onions are softened and turning translucent, add the garlic to the pot and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice to the pot. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and stir well to combine.


Allow tomatoes to simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. (If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, the tomatoes may need to cook an additional 1-2 hours, depending on how juicy they are.)

When the sauce is fully cooked and achieves the right consistency, turn the heat off and let cool.

Using either an immersion blender or a blender, puree the sauce and then add the herbs.



Serve immediately or place in quart containers to freeze or gift to friends. I always keep one container in the fridge so I'm ready with homemade sauce at a moment's notice.
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