Best damn tomato sauce

A couple weekends ago, I bought a box of “uglies” from a tomato stand at the farmers market.  The tomatoes were mostly beautiful, just a few soft spots, but nothing I couldn’t work around. 

The best part: for $3 I got 10 plump, red, ripe tomatoes. 

The downside: I couldn’t use all 10 (plus the handful I’d picked up at a different vendor’s table earlier that morning) in two days, i.e., before time turned those tiny soft spots turned into a big, leaky, stinky mess.

I used the best of the bunch in a huge garden salad (the pictures of which are languishing on my camera…sorry!).  To use the rest, I cut out the bruises and tossed all of the pieces into a large saucepan along with a couple of smashed cloves of garlic, half of a small garden onion, some olive oil, a generous sprinkle of salt and mini pinch of sugar.

I had no grand designs for this simmering tomato…thing.  I really had very little idea what I was doing, but what I did know was that if I didn’t do something with those salvageable pieces they’d be beyond any recovery by the next day. 

In the back of my mind was this recipe that was all over the Internet this past winter.  I tried it (several months ago) and was underwhelmed, but I was inspired by the simple ingredients.  So with that as my springboard, I threw together this handful of ingredients and let the pot simmer on low for about two hours.  The result?

BEST DAMN SAUCE I’ve ever made.  It was simple and straightforward with (if I may say so) a perfect complement of flavors.  I had intended to toss in herbs at some point but, in the end, was really glad I didn’t.  This basic sauce was so versatile.  I poured the cooled sauce–basically softened tomatoes and garlic in lots of rich juice–into a big bowl and used it throughout the week.

I used a few tablespoons of it for pizza sauce for a quick weekend lunch.  With a little fresh mozzarella on a piece of baguette, it was outstanding.

A few days later, I pureed about a cup of the soft tomatoes and sauce along with a little red onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt for a tasty salsa to accompany our grilled tacos.

Last night I used a little more for the sauce on my carmelized onion and green tomato pizza (idea from here.  A word to the wise: do not wait — try this ASAP!!  Un.be.lievable.)

And tonight we used the last of it for spaghetti and meatballs and eggplant parmesan:

An aside:  The kids made their own meatballs!

My New Favorite Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes — whatever you’ve got, they don’t have to be pretty

A few smashed cloves of garlic — adjust to your tastes

Onion, quartered (if desired)

Generous sprinkle of salt

Little pinch of sugar

Quarter the tomatoes.  (I didn’t bother to peel or seed them, figuring I’d probably puree the whole thing in the end.)  Toss everything in a heavy stockpot and simmer over medium low heat for as long as you can manage.  I let one small batch go about 40 minutes, another for upwards of 2 hours.  Can be kept covered in the fridge for a week or so.

p.s.  Thought this was interesting and wanted to include it here so I don’t forget it. 🙂

Cookie for breakfast

When the kids came back from their week at Grandma and Grandpa’s, I had a new breakfast idea up my sleeve.  Some weeks back, I discovered Iowa Girl Eats, a great blog by, get this, a local!  It’s full of enthusiasm and great ideas, is practical and not pretentious, and features some lovely pictures.  

Kristin at IGE posts often about this “breakfast cookie.” From first mention, I was intrigued.  Initially, I thought a breakfast cookie would essentially be a granola bar, just a different shape. 

Not so.  While not as portable as a granola bar, it most definitely tastes better.  The oats are tender and creamy after spending the night hours softening in the yogurt and banana mixture, the creamy spread of yogurt is like frosting, and the fruit on top gives it a wake-you-up pop of deliciousness!  

 

The first time I made one, I was hooked.  (Though I will admit I was a bit skeptical when I prepped it the night before…Don’t fret if you try it and feel the same.  It’s totally worth any “is this really going to be any good?” doubts you might have.) 

Given my general lack of time every. single. morning, the breakfast cookie is ideal for me us because 

  1. It requires very little prep. 
  2. There’s no need to turn on the oven. 
  3. It requires just a few basic staples and only the teeniest bit of forethought.
  4. It’s packed with protein and filling enough to keep you going all morning.

 

Now, I tried this out on my kids and was surprised by their reactions.  Birdgirl loves oatmeal.  We’re talking loooooves it, even more so if there’s a dollop of yogurt on top. So, naturally, I thought she’d love the breakfast cookie.  The Boy, on the other hand, is not a fan of oatmeal, or new things in general, so I didn’t have high hopes for his review. 

All this is to say she didn’t like it and he did like it. Go figure. 

Anyway, I thought it was fantastic.  It’s even better with this: 

Best. yogurt. EVER.

 

I imagine you could mix this up any number of ways: 

– Use plain yogurt as a base and play off virtually any fruit (from fresh berries or peaches in the summer, to cooked apples in the fall); use vanilla yogurt (it’s like frosting); or pair a fruit combo–like bananas in the oats, strawberry yogurt for the topping. 

– Add some peanut butter and maybe some honey to the oat mixture (I tried this and loved it; kids…weren’t so crazy about it) 

– Include some dried fruit or, better yet, chocolate chips in the oat mix or on top! 

  

Here’s your starting point: 

Breakfast Cookie 

from Iowa Girl Eats 

1/4 c. oats 

1/2 mashed banana 

yogurt 

1 T. slivered or sliced almonds 

Mix the oats, mashed banana, and a few spoonfuls of yogurt and spread onto a small plate.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, top your cookie with a spread of yogurt and your favorite fruit.