I filled two big bowls with fresh tomatoes this morning, and decided it was time to try another batch of marinara sauce. Two of our eight tomato plants are San Marzanos, and I bought those specifically because they are supposed to be the best for making sauces. About half the tomatoes I picked this morning were the San Marzanos, along with several other varieties that were ripe today, as well. What the hell. I put them all in the sauce, just like I did when Ben and I first tried making our own marinara sauce last week.
I had never made my own sauce before, so it was off to the interwebs to learn how other people do it. I read six or eight or a dozen recipes, and decided I knew what I wanted to do. So Ben and I set to chopping and chopping and chopping vegetables. We chopped onions and garlic and carrots and a banana pepper and basil, fresh from the garden, and lots and lots of tomatoes. Wow. Did we make a big mess. A seedy, juicy, pulpy mess. But what we ultimately made was some marinara sauce, and I have to say, for a first attempt, I was absolutely satisfied with it. I cooked some penne pasta in the water I had dropped the tomatoes in to remove their skins, and within an hour of when we began, we were eating penne with fresh marinara sauce. And I don't think I would have changed a thing.
So today I set about to replicate that marinara sauce. Things were less hectic this time - perhaps because it wasn't the first time I was doing it all - but it sure did go a lot slower as I worked by myself. I felt like I was more in control of the operation than it being in control of me like it was the last time, though. I cooked the sauce longer this time and plan to reheat it another day, using it to simmer some Italian sausage for a few hours. Upon tasting the sauce, I realized I had forgotten once again to liberally salt and pepper the sauce when I started cooking it. I am so used to using prepared tomato products that I forget how much seasoning fresh ingredients need.
My marinara sauce is cooling now, and I have to say, I am not sure it is worth all the effort. I used three big bowls, two big strainers, and two big pots for one recipe of sauce. I think I discarded as much of the tomatoes as I actually used, I made a huge mess, and as I was eating my lunch, I noticed a hunk of tomato skin stuck to my foot. I may just stick to my cold recipes in the future. But it made me think about my mother-in-law and the huge operation she went through every year when the tomatoes were ripe. From what Ben has told me, it was all hands on deck as they made tomato sauce and tomato juice, and canned jar after jar of bright red tomatoes for the coming year. The house wasn't air-conditioned, of course, and the humidity inside was at 100% as the tomatoes steamed and cooked and cooled. But that was just how it was. It isn't all singing That's Amore and playing bocce in the back yard when you're Italian, you know.
UPDATE: It was worth the effort!