Classic Tuscan Marinara (Pomarola)

INGREDIENTS:

4-6 pounds ripe, plum or dry farmed tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 carrots, minced
1/2 cup onions, minced
1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
A fresh hot pepper, ribbed and seeds discarded OR 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
Robust extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 large bunch fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped finely

METHOD:

Combine the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, red pepper (or pepper flakes), and parsley. In a large stockpot, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium high heat and then add vegetable mixture, stirring occasionally. When the onions are translucent, add the chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon or so of salt to the pot. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, till the tomatoes begin to fall apart.Once the tomatoes are cooked, remove from heat and allow mixture to cool slightly.

Pass the tomato mixture through a food mill, discarding the skins and seeds.

Check the seasoning and return the sauce to the stockpot. Continue to cook the sauce over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and is no longer watery. (Test: place a drop of sauce on a plate—when it no longer creates a watery halo, it’s done. Depending on how watery the sauce was to begin with, it may take up to an hour to evaporate off the excess water).

When the sauce is done, remove from heat and stir in the basil leaves.

For Immediate Use :: Transfer the sauce at once to prepared clean sterile canning jars, sealing each from the air by pouring a thin layer of olive oil over the sauce. Place sterilized lid on top of jars and fasten with band. Once jars, have cooled, refrigerate them.

For Freezing :: Cool sauce completely. Place 2 cup portions into freezer bags, label, and freeze up to three months.

For Canning :: If you decide to expand the recipe, fill a few jars for immediate use, and put the rest of the sauce in sterilized jars without olive oil. Place a rack in a water canner or pot large enough to hold the jars. Place the jars in the pot, and fill to cover with cold water.

canning-marinaraBring the water to a boil, turn down heat and simmer the jars for about 35 minutes for pint sized jars; 45 minutes for quart jars. Turn off the heat. Allow the jars sit in the water for 10 minutes, and then remove them carefully to a cooling rack or dish towel-lined counter. Allow jars to cool and sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check seals.* Store the jars in a cool dark place.

*Visually check the lids for seals—you should see a slight concave depression the center of the lid. Tap the lids lightly with a knife to check the seal. It should “ring.” If one does not, put the jar in the fridge and use it within a week or two.

Serving Ideas :: Use about 1/4 cup of marinara to 1/4 lb. of cooked pasta per serving. Once you’ve cooked and drained the pasta, stir in the pomarola and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano.

Variation :: Heat 1 cup marinara in sauce pan over medium high heat. When it begins to bubble, stir in a 1/2 cup of fresh cream. When the sauce is heated through, pour over freshly cooked pasta and garnish with fresh Parmigiano and fresh basil leaves.

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