This most recent in my series of spaghetti sauce recipes is good for “Guess the Mystery Ingredient” if you like to play that game. I added the apple, and added it early in the cooking process, because I was concerned that the mostly-green pepper would give this sauce a sharp, tangy flavor. I have disliked green peppers since my first pregnancy (when they invariably gave me stomachaches) because of that sharpness, so when we get a green pepper in our farm share I set it out at room temperature and hope it ripens to another, sweeter color. Sometimes they do; sometimes they just start to shrivel up and need to be used. This one got about halfway. Cooking green pepper for a good long time, especially in oil, also helps to mellow its flavor and acidity.
But the apple really did the trick! I think this is my tastiest sauce in a while. The onion, pepper, apple, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, and basil all came from the farm, so this is a seasonal Pennsylvania recipe! (The kale also was from the farm, actually, back in June, when we froze some of it to use later.)
Here are the instructions/ingredients/method for approximately reproducing this batch of sauce:
- Peel and dice 1 1/4 yellow onions and 1 green-turning-orange pepper.
- Place a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil (this was Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, classier than what we normally buy, because the Italian less-virginal stuff was out of stock last time I went to the store; I notice a yummier flavor in this oil if I taste it by itself, but when cooked into foods I’m not sure it makes much difference) and use large spoon to spread it around to cover bottom of pot.
- Place onion and pepper in the oil. When it starts to sizzle, reduce heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile, choose the least appealing 1 small apple from the fruit basket, the one with some rough warty sections on its skin. Peel those parts and check that the apple underneath looks and smells just fine. Core and dice the apple.
- When your life-partner comes into the kitchen and complains that you did not put enough oil in the veggies, add an additional 1 Tbsp. olive oil because he was right about this aspect of egg-scrambling yesterday, and anyway it is not worth arguing about since olive oil is good for you.
- Mix apple into pot. Let simmer while you are dicing 3 plum tomatoes and 1 small zucchini.
- Mix in the tomatoes, zucchini, 1 tsp. sea salt, 3 Tbsp. dry oregano, 1 cup finely shredded kale that was frozen and thawed, and 7 small cloves crushed garlic. Increase heat so that the tomato juice boils off and the zucchini quickly softens. Stir frequently.
- Meanwhile, pick the remaining good leaves off basil that has been languishing in the refrigerator for 11 days, and shred them with the tomato knife, resulting in 1/2 cup shredded fresh (?) basil. Mix it into the pot.
- Add 106-oz. can of tomato puree (get these large cans at GFS or Costco). Rinse the can with about 1 1/2 cups water, and pour this into the pot.
- Turn up heat until sauce starts bubbling, then turn it down just to the point where it is bubbling a little but not so much that it’s difficult to stir safely. Keep a lid on it when not stirring, to reduce splatters onto nearby surfaces. Now start boiling water to cook pasta. Simmer sauce until pasta is ready. Ours took 20 minutes.
- A few minutes into the simmering stage, slice 15 black olives left over from some earlier meal you’ve now forgotten, which have been soaking in their brine in a glass jar in the refrigerator for like two or three weeks maybe. Eat the sixteenth and seventeenth olives to make sure they are still good. Mix sliced olives into sauce.
Serve the sauce over pasta, or use it for pizza, Stuffed Shells, grilled cheese sandwiches, or other recipes. Store sauce in glass jars in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in plastic containers in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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