Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Easy Tomato Sauce

I have to admit, I'm not really a fan of tomato sauce anymore. Somewhere in my 40s my digestive system began having a difference of opinion with my palate. This is sad, especially since a nice marinara sauce on pasta used to be a stand-by for me at non-veg restaurants. But alas, wheat pasta is a no-no these days, too!

But, I do still serve a red sauce to my family, and especially to my daughter, who loves her pasta with either red sauce, pesto or just veg butter and yeast.

Since no one here really eats a lot of red sauce at any one time, we ended of up wasting most of any jar we would open up for either a meal or a snack. I dislike wasting food and I dislike wasting money even more!

I think I have finally found a solution to my problem! After buying a pressure cooker recently, I realized I could easily make a simple red sauce with the canned tomatoes I have on hand and dried and fresh spices. I could control the sugar and the oil. And, I had just purchased a box of vintage jam jars and lids at a garage sale (thinking I would make some jam from the crazy cherry-plum trees that line out driveway). I soon realized, though, that those jars were the perfect size for how much red sauce we might use, even over the course of a few days. (Experience has borne this out. They are perfect!)

I whittled down a recipe I found on the internet (she must have been making pasta sauce for a huge Italian family) and simply put this in my tiny jars (which have sort of been sterilized), let them cool, and then stuck them in my freezer to pop out only when needed.

Here's the recipe I came up with. Of course, like any good cook, you can add things you like. But if you suddenly find yourself trying to feed a veg'n and all you've got in the pantry is some old cheesey or meaty jar of sauce, you can whip this up in an instant for a fresh "chef made" taste. (You don't really even need to pressure cook this, you could also just blend fresh or canned tomatoes and your herbs. Really. It works. I've done it.)

Simple Tomato Sauce
(Make this "Raw Vegan" by using fresh tomatoes and no bay leaf)

3 cans tomatoes (I used diced)
1 can water
1 small can tomato paste or sauce
1-2 tbs dry veggie stock
1-3 tsp of fresh or dry herbs/spices: basil, oregano, chives, onion
1-2 cloves fresh garlic or 1/2-1 tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

Some red or white wine, vodka, veggies, olives, etc. Saute some onions first in oil or water.

Fresh raw: Just blend this in a blender. Serve.
Cooked on stove: combine all in a pot, simmer til hot or longer if you really want to reduce it and blend the flavors. Take out bay leaf before serving. (I used my pressure cooker. Around 15 minutes at pressure. Natural pressure release. Open lid away from you.)

I poured my sauce into small jam jars that I had boiled to sterilize. Since I wasn't being extra careful, I froze them instead of considering them "canned." Don't over-fill if you are freezing to allow for expansion.

Serve over regular pasta or rice or corn pasta for a fully gluten-free experience.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Easy Garden Wrap

My daughter attended a school with a terrific garden program from Kindergarten through 5th grade. The amazing teacher, Laurel Anderson, made sure the kids weren't just planting seeds or watering flowers. She had them FIXING and EATING the food that they grew. Once a week for two years, I had the pleasure of helping out with my daughter's class. Each week's class ended with a snack made by half the group and served to everyone. Because gardening is not just about plants. It's about food, cooking, sharing, serving, enjoying, discovery, health and community. Laurel got all that in in a 50 minute class.

One of the last meals we shared, and apparently one of the class' favorites, was the "Garden Wrap." It's presented here in a regular tortilla, but if you are gluten-free, you could use a rice wrap, nori or even just roll this up into a big piece of lettuce.

My daughter requests this dressing now. Laurel's original dressing called for yogurt, but I've veganized it to a soy or other-based yogurt with no problem. And because we now grow our own herbs at home, I can make this myself in the blink of an eye.


A wrap lends itself to any ingredients you have on hand.
These are my daughter's favorites. 

Harmony Garden Wraps

  Dressing (blend in blender)
  • 1/2 cup plain soy or other yogurt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 handfuls of French sorrel (or other herbs- any bitter lettuce works)
  • 1 bunch chives
  • Herbs/salt – to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup -- 1/2 cup oil (optional)
Wrap Instructions:
  • Spread dressing on tortilla.
  • Sprinkle on sunflower seeds.
  • Grate a little carrot over it.
  • Add washed spinach/lettuce.
  • Roll it up carefully.
  • You can eat this whole, cut it in half or into little wheels if you are serving as an appetizer. 
That's a wrap!