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When Seth and I were first dating, we ate spaghetti nearly every meal.  We were young, poor college students.  That was the main reason.  But we also had an 8 lb. jar of homemade spaghetti sauce sitting in Seth’s refrigerator.  That was the other reason.  It was Seth’s dad’s recipe and Seth was not very adventurous with foods at the time, so Seth’s dad made him a massive jar of sauce, promising to refill the jar any time Seth brought it back.  We ate a lot of spaghetti.  I’m sorry to say it took about a month to go through a jar.  How is it possible that the sauce never went bad?  I still think about that now, ten years later.

Seth’s dad has since passed away.  He was an excellent chef and a good friend, and he lived to see us go from spaghetti every meal to vegetables every meal, to growing our own vegetables and falling in love with tomatoes all over again.  Now, he was the type of guy who cooked from the supermarket, whereas I cook from the field.  And so you can make my father-in-law’s tomato sauce both ways — with canned or with fresh tomatoes.

This is a good simple recipe, and a way to use up a glut of tomatoes.  Dress it up with herbs or dress it down with meat to your heart’s content.  We serve it over pork cutlets with a slice of gluten-free bread to sop up the extra sauce, or I like it on a bowl of cooked spaghetti squash.

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Damn Fine Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • olive oil
  • 5 lbs. fresh tomatoes diced into 1-inch chunks, OR four 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped fine
  • 3 T. sugar (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:

In a large pot, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add onions and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until onions are soft. Add mushrooms and peppers, stirring until slightly softened. Add tomato paste and stir well. Let cook for several minutes, stirring often.  (If you don’t have tomato paste on hand, throw a handful of chopped tomatoes into the pot with the vegetables and cook the tomatoes down until they are very thick.)

Add tomatoes. Stir well, bring to a boil over medium heat, then drop heat to a simmer.  Keep lid cracked on pot and stir occasionally.  Watch that sauce does not stick.  After an hour, taste sauce and add sugar, salt and pepper.  Simmer until sauce is at desired consistency.  If you have an immersion blender, blend up the sauce to shred the tomato skins, or pass the sauce through a food mill, or leave it be if you want a rustic sauce.  Will thicken more upon cooling.  Tastes best after sitting overnight.

This recipe is easily halved or doubled.

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