I’ve never bothered with making spaghetti sauce from scratch. One of the things I really like about spaghetti is that it can be a quick and easy meal when using sauce from a jar. The other reason I never made it is that so many recipes use canned tomatoes. To me, that’s not completely from scratch, and if I’m going to open cans of tomatoes, I might as well just open a jar of sauce.
I’m actually not very fond of tomatoes. I like them cooked just fine, but I don’t like them raw. I don’t like the taste, smell or feel of them. I even dislike tomato plants. I have grown a few tomato plants over the years for the sake of my family, and this year I decided to try a grape tomato plant. That one plant has produced an abundance of tomatoes over the past few weeks and I have learned that I don’t mind eating them raw (the smaller the better, though).
So when I started receiving lots of large tomatoes from my CSA box I knew I would have to do something with them. The grape tomatoes were all we needed for regular eating. That led me to deciding to try spaghetti sauce from scratch. I really thought it would be too much work, especially boiling the tomatoes and peeling them, but I was wrong. Sure, it takes longer than opening a jar, but it wasn’t bad at all, and I made a lot of it.
Peeling the Tomatoes
I was tempted not to peel the tomatoes, but then I thought of times when I use canned tomatoes and a bit of peel gets in there. It’s tough and unpleasant. Peel the tomatoes. It’s easy to do.
Bring a pot of water to boil. I use my electric tea pot to get water hot quickly. The pot does not have to be big enough to hold all the tomatoes. I did four at a time. Also have a bowl of ice water ready to put the boiled tomatoes into. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and set your timer for 1 minute. That’s all it takes and slightly less time is better than more. As soon as the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes and immediately submerge them in the ice water. Add the next batch of tomatoes to the pot and set your timer again until all the tomatoes have been boiled.
Doing this step doesn’t take long and it makes removing the skins so easy. They slide right off the tomato, and sometimes just fall off.
This makes a large batch of sauce so you can freeze the extra or plan to use it for more than one meal.
- 4-5 pounds tomatoes
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 pounds ground beef or sausage
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1/4 cup red wine
- Boil the tomatoes for one minute, then immediately put into ice water. Once cool, remove and peel the skin.
- Slice the tomatoes from the top down several times and remove the seeds.
- Remove the stem, chop the tomatoes, and put them in a colander to drain. (This is important. It will be too watery if you don't drain them well.)
- Sauté the ground beef or sausage. When it is halfway done, add the onions, bell pepper, and garlic to soften them up. Drain.
- Add everything except the wine to your slow cooker and stir to mix.
- Cover it and cook on high 3 – 3 1/2 hours or low 6 – 6 1/2 hours.
- Stir in the wine, turn the cooker to high if you had it on low, and cook another 30 minutes. Remove the lid during this time if the sauce is too thin.