In the cold, dark days of winter, what’re you gonna eat? Comfort food! Like this “pasta” with Savory Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.
Now I’ll admit it — writing about tomatoes in January does feel a little strange. We haven’t cracked 20 in weeks in Wisconsin and here I am talking about a summer vegetable!
But home gardeners may have a few jars in their pantry, put away when the weather was warm. And if not, cans of store-bought tomatoes are cheap and easy.
I’ll fess up to having a few quarts of tomatoes in my basement and I wish I had more 🙂 . But the tomatoes in this sauce actually came from my freezer — did you know that tomatoes freeze beautifully?
You simply wash them and freeze in a zip lock bag. No peeling, no blanching, it’s the perfect solution when times are rushed!
And there’s an added bonus when it’s time to use your frozen tomatoes — the skins slip right off. Just thaw them in warm water for a minute first. Easy peasy!
Have you heard that I am eating (almost) all local this year (more here)? Well since I’m cooking from scratch, I try to be especially sure that the flavor and nutrition of my foods are the best possible. So, today I revved up my homemade spaghetti sauce with a couple frozen bell peppers. Mmm!
Now I hate to bring up this one last common characteristic of winter eating. That’s when you have to take off a few holiday pounds, or live up to a healthy eating New Year’s Resolution.
To double down on both these goals, I cooked up some spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Its stringy flesh is nutritious, low in calories and a perfect substitute. But if you really need that comfort part, pasta is good too!
Happy New Year!
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 bell peppers, chopped (no need to peel)
- 2 quarts canned tomatoes (or 2 28-ounce jars, or about 4 lb fresh tomatoes, peeled)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch of crushed red pepper (optional if you like a hint of spice)
- 1 lb ground beef or other meat (optional)
- For serving: cooked pasta or spaghetti squash
- Heat olive oil in a dutch oven. Sautee chopped onion until tender. Add minced garlic and chopped peppers then cook for another minute or two.
- Add tomatoes and seasoning to the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer, covered, for about two hours.
- If using ground beef or other meat, sautee breaking it apart, and add to the dutch oven. Boil uncovered for about another hour, stirring occassionally, until thickened. Remove bay leaf and discard.
- Serve over cooked pasta or spaghetti squash.
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