Mary Anne here. This recipe is yet another inspired by my dear friend, Mrs. A. When her garden tomatoes were ripe on the vine this past August, she prepared her “house specialty” sauce, sharing several unforgettably delicious portions with me. Naturally I tried to wrangle the recipe from her, but alas, she doesn’t measure when she cooks and so the best she could offer was a list of ingredients.
Unfortunately, plum tomatoes are no longer in season here in the Northeast, so I opted to use canned. While not as sweet and flavorful as the vine-ripened variety from Mrs. A.’s garden, the sauce was almost as tasty. (I confess, I added a bit of sugar to sweeten the pot!)
Whether using canned or fresh tomatoes, it’s imperative that you seed them or the sauce will have a bitter bite. Additionally, you’ll need to “sweat” the eggplant and zucchini to prevent undue acidity. See our method for sweating the veggies and seeding tomatoes in our Ratatouille recipe.
This sauce goes well with all pasta shapes. I served it over whole wheat penne with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. While this makes a lot of marinara, you can freeze half of the batch for future meals. I plan to thaw and re-heat my dinner-in-the-bank to celebrate the first real snowfall this winter!
Tomato Ragout with Garden Vegetables
a.k.a. Pomodoro Giardinare ala Agnese
4 lbs, fresh ripe plum tomatoes, skinned and seeded – $5.96
OR: 2- 28oz. cans peeled plum tomatoes with juice – $4.00
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil – stock
1 lb. eggplant, cut into 2” strips – $1.49
½ lb zucchini, cubed – $0.90
1 large Vidalia onion, diced – $0.89
4 cloves garlic, minced – stock
1 red Bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips – $1.34
1 cup chopped celery – $0.59
1 heaping cup chopped carrots – $0.43
1 Teaspoon dried Italian herb blend – stock
1 Teaspoon dried Basil – stock
2 Teaspoons sugar – stock
salt and pepper to taste – stock
pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste – stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $9.64 (calculated with canned tomatoes price)
Total Per Serving: $0.80
1. Prep the eggplant and zucchini first, following the sweating instructions in our Ratatouille recipe. Meanwhile, if using fresh tomatoes, skin and seed them, again by following the instructions in our Ratatouille recipe.
For canned tomatoes: strain through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, being careful to reserve the juices. Slice the tomatoes in half and carefully remove the seeds. Coarsely chop the seeded tomatoes and add them to the bowl of juice. Set aside.
2. In your largest skillet, heat the olive oil over a high flame and sauté all of the prepared vegetables, stirring frequently until limp but not brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking an additional 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the vegetables to a large stockpot and add the tomatoes, juices, sugar and seasonings. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Mariel’s note: Once cooked, I use the Cuisinart to quickly pulse all the veggies (just hit pulse once or twice and that’ll be enough to create a thick, chunky ragu. It’s not necessary, but I prefer it this way.
4. Serve over cooked pasta and sprinkle each serving with grated Parmesan cheese.