Last week my brother-in-law called and asked if we wanted to visit and pick some tomatoes from their garden. They live on a farm, and my kids love going there to run around and play with their cousins. I love homegrown tomatoes so this sounded like a great idea. I envisioned myself with a few nice, juicy tomatoes for some tomato sandwiches and grilled cheese with tomatoes. This is what I got.
The garden was coming to an end, and my sister-in-law was done picking and preparing the tomatoes. She said I could take as much as I wanted. As you can see, I have a really hard time resisting fresh produce. She even threw in a few Japanese eggplants, peppers, and spaghetti squash. I was so excited but so scared at the same time. I knew I needed to use the tomatoes quickly because they would go bad. However, the next three days were filled with back to school meetings. What was I going to do with all of these tomatoes, and when was I going to find time to do it?
That night, I scrubbed the dirt off of all the tomatoes. When I was finished, every counter in my kitchen was overflowing with tomatoes. Now I needed recipes. I searched on Pinterest for quick and easy sauces to make with fresh tomatoes. Who knew there would be so many? After searching for about an hour, I narrowed it down to five recipes I thought I could handle after a full day of meetings.
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#1 – Spaghetti Sauce
I knew I wanted a quick and easy spaghetti sauce because my kids love noddles with sauce. It’s one of my go-to fast meals on busy nights. When I started looking for tomato sauce recipes using fresh tomatoes, I couldn’t believe the amount of time they took. Cut the tomatoes, blanch the tomatoes, and peel the tomatoes. Ummm, no. I definitely did not have time for all that. Then, I found it – Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce + No Peeling Required. Jackpot! Thank you, Lisa, from A Day in Our Shoes! Not only did I not have to peel the tomatoes; they could cook all day in the slow cooker while I was at work, too.
I started by cutting my tomatoes and squeezing out some of the seeds and juice. Then, I popped them in my Kitchenaid Food Processor and let it break them down. I put the tomatoes and seasonings into my Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker and put it in the refrigerator overnight. I love my slow cooker because it has an inside crock that lifts out and easily fits on the shelf in my refrigerator. This saved me from having to prep everything in the morning when I have very limited time. Before I left for work, I just moved the crock back into the base and set it on high for the day. I left the lid open a little bit so more of the liquid would evaporate. I wanted a thick sauce. When I returned from work, I had a beautiful spaghetti sauce waiting for me. I put some of it in the refrigerator for recipes this week. I put the rest into a freezer bag and saved it for later.
#2 – Pizza Sauce
The next night, I did the exact same steps with more of my tomatoes. I pureed them in the food processor and put them in the crock of my slow cooker. This time I added the ingredients for my favorite pizza sauce. I’ve been using this recipe for a while. However, I usually use canned tomatoes and cook it on the stove. The Copycat Pizza Hut Sauce from Sara at Budget Savvy Diva comes out delicious every time. I couldn’t wait to try it in the slow cooker! Once again the crock went into the refrigerator overnight. I moved it to the base in the morning, and it cooked on high all day while I was at work. As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted by the delicious smell of homemade pizza sauce. I can’t wait to use this for pizza night on Friday!
#3 – Enchilada Sauce
I love Mexican food, and enchiladas are one of my favorites. I always buy enchilada sauce at the store, but I was wondering if I could make it myself. Then, I found the recipe for Homemade Enchilada Sauce at New Leaf Wellness, and it didn’t sound too hard. The longest part was baking the tomatoes, but I could make supper at the same time. My mini meatloaves also baked at 400 degrees so I could do two things at once. Perfect! The tomatoes cooled while we ate supper. Then, I was able to process them with the spices, and my enchilada sauce was ready. I put some of it in the refrigerator to use for a meal this week. I froze the rest. It will be so nice to pull some out of the freezer next time instead of buying a can at the grocery store.
#4 – Salsa
The next recipe didn’t require much thought. If I was making Mexican food this week, I needed salsa. Usually, eating salsa is a time-consuming process for me. I hate onions so every chip dipped in salsa is carefully inspected to make sure there isn’t the smallest piece of onion on it. If I made my own salsa, I could leave out the onions. I never use salsa in recipes because of the onions. Now I would be able to use my homemade salsa. I found a recipe for Fresh Salsa from Lulu the Baker. I omitted the onions and followed the rest of the directions exactly. Of course I had to sample it as soon as it was ready. Delicious – and I could put the whole chip in my mouth without any inspection needed!
#5 – Tomato Soup
Okay, I know this one is cheating a little bit. Tomato soup isn’t really a sauce. However, it is used in a lot of recipes as a sauce component so I thought it fit here. When I was meal planning for this week, I asked J what he wanted for supper to celebrate the first day of first grade. His response was grilled cheese sandwiches. I probably could have guessed this without asking. I had a 50-50 chance since mac and cheese could have been the answer, too. What goes perfectly with grilled cheese? Tomato soup! I found a recipe for Garden Fresh Tomato Soup from Cassie at Back to Her Roots. She said she puts the seeds and skins into the soup. This sounded great because again there was no time for blanching and skinning the tomatoes. I can’t wait to try this soup with our grilled cheese sandwiches Monday night!
After a full week of preparing tomato sauces, I have enough to make meals this week and this winter. I won’t have to buy store-bought sauces for a while. I love serving my family foods that I’ve made from scratch with all natural ingredients. It’s even better when I know exactly what garden they were grown in, and I helped to pick them myself. My kitchen counters are empty again. However, I did keep few whole tomatoes for my tomato sandwiches and grilled cheese with tomatoes (which I will be having Monday night).