Tomato Paste

This year’s garden didn’t do so great. Mostly due to not great weather. We lost our zucchini to being over watered by the amount of rain we got. The green bean barely had a chance to produce a few beans before the plants died for the season. Luckily though the tomato plant is one that was definitely a late bloomer but definitely got a good harvest out of it! This year I grew heirloom roma tomatoes which are perfect for turning into homemade tomato paste!

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Here is my first batch of freshly picked tomatoes for the season! To get started with this recipe the tomatoes need to be thoroughly rinsed to remove any debris from the skins. I do not peel my tomatoes before cooking so it is important to clean the skins well.

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Next I remove the stems if there are any and slice each tomato in half and remove the seeds. Once each tomato has been prepared, it goes into the pot on medium heat.

I allow the tomatoes to break down into a nice tomato sauce consistency before I carefully ladle everything through a mesh strainer and into a heat resistance bowl.  This gets all the tomato skins and any stray seeds out of the tomato sauce.

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Once all the tomato skins have been removed, the tomato sauce goes back into the pot to cook some more. At this point you want to evaporate as much water as you can out of the tomatoes.It should have a soft paste-like consistency, typically it takes about 30 minutes to achieve this consistency. If you want to season this tomato sauce with anything now is the time to do it. Normally I add a little bit of ground black pepper, salt , and oregano. But feel free to add or omit any seasonings.20190929_2004573372372794616261983.jpg

After 30 minutes, remove the tomato paste from the pot and spared evenly on the bottom of a shallow pan. I used a squared glass Pyrex for this and it worked out really well. You want to spread out as evenly as possible because this will be going into the oven. Uneven layer will cause thinner spots to burn and thicker spots to hold onto more moisture. Once you have the tomato paste spread out as evenly as possible place it into a preheated 200 degree oven. This will slowly evaporate more of the liquid out of the tomatoes and concentrate the tomato flavor. Check and mix every 15 minutes so that the tomato paste does not burn. Typically this takes about an hour and a half until you achieve a paste consistency. Remove from oven and allow it to cool down before putting the tomato paste into a storage container. Tomato paste has many different applications in cooking. Stick around for part 2, Homemade Ketchup!

 

 

 

Meaty Zucchini Pasta Sauce

I occasionally get bored with my normal pasta sauce routine. Brown some ground meat dump some sauce in and let simmer. I recently felt like I needed to change it up a bit. So I wandered my grocery store until I found this combination to try with my sauce.

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I start this off by chopping up some prosciutto and throwing it into a skillet with some oil. The pieces will stick to each other, which is fine. I try to break up the clusters of meat as much as possible while the meat gets crispy.  The meat will need to be stirred around occasionally to make sure all parts are crispy.

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Once the meat is nice and crispy, I add in the zucchini and summer squash pieces to the skillet. I cook this down quite a bit, sometimes it is necessary to add a splash or 2 of  water to keep everything from sticking to the skillet. I also add a very small amount of salt, a generous amount of black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Keep the use of salt to a minimum since there is a lot of salt in the prosciutto. But you will need to add a  little salt to help break down the squashes.

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Once the zucchini and summer squashes have been cooked enough, I pour a jar of tomato sauce into the skillet. It is important that almost all of the liquid is gone from the skillet before adding in the tomato sauce.The water needs to evaporate away otherwise your sauce will be too runny. As the sauce simmers I taste test and adjust the seasonings. It is important to not add any more salt at this point, otherwise it will be a very salt sauce. While the sauce is simmering away I cook my pasta. Once the pasta is cooked I drain the water and add some butter to it to help prevent the pasta from sticking to itself once the water is gone. I do not run cold water over the pasta after it has been drained of water. I use the heat of the pasta to melt the butter.

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After the pasta is cooked I add a little into a bowl. Then add my sauce to it. And of course some parmesan cheese goes on top. Then enjoy!


Ingredients

  • splash of oil, canola or olive
  • 1 package of prosciutto
  • 1 zucchini, cut to your liking
  • 1 summer squash, cut to your liking
  • pinch of salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • onion powder to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
  • cooked pasta
  • 3 Tbsp of butter, preferably unsalted

Directions

  1. Set a pot of water and bring to boil. Set up your skillet with a splash of oil with the heat set to medium. Allow the oil to warm up and coat the bottom of the skillet.
  2. Add chopped prosciutto to skillet. allow the meat to get crispy. Stir occasionally to help get the meat evenly crisp. Once the prosciutto has reached desired crispiness, add in the cut zucchini and summer squash.  Stir around a little bit then add in the salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir to prevent the veggies and meat from sticking. If oil is completely gone and there is some sticking add a splash of water.
  3. Once the veggies are fully cooked add a jar of tomato sauce to the skillet. Stir to combine ingredients. Set stove to low and allow to simmer. Add pasta to boiling water. Once the pasta is cooked drain and add 3 Tbsp of butter to noodles and stir.
  4. Serve up and top off with parmesan cheese, if desired, and enjoy