Fresh Tomato Marinara Recipe?
July 12, 2009 2:51 PM   Subscribe

I have fresh tomatoes & basil from my garden, and would like to make some spicy marinara out of it. I'm a novice to making sauces from fresh ingredients. Any suggested, and preferably simple, recipes?

I'll settle for any good fresh tomato pasta sauce, not necessarily a marinara.

Previously: (1, 2)
posted by jabberjaw to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Lucky you! With fresh ingredients, keep it simple. Chop and seed the tomatoes. Put the pasta on the boil. Mince some garlic. Heat some olive oil in a saucepan, and saute the garlic just until the smell comes up -- like a minute -- then dump in the tomatoes and season with salt. Let it simmer while the pasta reaches al dente, then dump the drained pasta into the saucepan with the tomatoes. At the last minute, shred the basil into the pasta/sauce mixture (don't use a knife on the basil!) Enjoy. Yum!
posted by trip and a half at 2:59 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I have great tomatoes, my favorite recipe is Shrimp with Basil, Garlic, and Tomatoes. It's so simple, just 6 ingredients, and the flavor is amazing. The tomatoes don't even need to cook, it ends up being more like bruschetta topping than anything. Serve on crusty slices of bread as an app or toss with hot pasta as a main course.
posted by TungstenChef at 3:09 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

A couple points I forgot to mention (sorry, fresh summer garden tomatoes and basil get me all giddy, so I posted in the haste of my excitement):

Peel the tomatoes first if you like by blanching them in boiling water for 30 seconds and pulling of the skins.

If you have some mozzarella, dice it and stir it in just before you add the basil. Make sure it's room temperature.

Of course grate some parmigiano or the like on top just before you serve.
posted by trip and a half at 3:14 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's a link to the recipe that I just used to make marinara sauce. It's a bit complicated, but great!
posted by shrabster at 3:26 PM on July 12, 2009

Spicy? I think what you want is an arrabiata recipe. Just sub your fresh tomatoes for the canned ones there. The tomato paste and the red pepper give that sauce an awesome depth of flavor.
I to eat it sauteed with broccoli rabe as a side dish or over penne.
posted by rmless at 3:40 PM on July 12, 2009

Whatever you do, make a pan of these slow-roasted tomatoes.

They are delicious on pasta, pizza, in sandwiches, on pieces of bread with a bit of blue cheese or sharp cheddar, can be whirled with basil into a kind of pesto sauce to be thinned with pasta water, cold salads, grilled cheese, etc., etc.

To make a spicy sauce with them, I'd put them in the blender with some basil and some chili peppers or even a bit of Rooster Sauce (cock sauce aka Sriracha). Thin with pasta water (as above). Or you could even roast some with a bit of chili powder on them.

posted by barnone at 4:08 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I make a tomato basil sauce with canned tomatoes, which I like a great deal. If you don't have a food mill or tomato press, a wire mesh strainer will help you juice your tomatoes effectively.
posted by GamblingBlues at 4:55 PM on July 12, 2009

Best answer: Second the blender, or food processer if you have one. (I'm thinking you don't if you don't usually cook with fresh ingredients.) A quick wazz through either will puree them to a smooth consistency.

Then take a saucepan and put it on medium, add about 2tbs olive oil.

Add some garlic, 2 or 3 cloves --- if you like garlic, you can mince or put it though a garlic press to get lots of flavor. If you want just a hint of garlic flavor, you can put the cloves in whole or halved and remove them from the sauce when you're done. (Some people stick a toothpick in 'em to make 'em easier to fish out.)

Personally, I like a bit of onion in my sauce, so I would add a small onion diced at this point. Add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor, then let the garlic and onion saute until the onion has softened.

If you want things spicy, add crushed red pepper flakes at this point --- about a tsp, maybe 2 for super spicy --- and let them saute until you can smell them.

Then add the tomatoes, salt, and black pepper ad give it a stir and a taste. Add a bit more salt and pepper if it tastes too bland. When it comes to a boil, turn it down to low and let the sauce simmer while you cook the pasta.

When the pasta is just about a minute from being ready, add the basil to the sauce. If the sauce looks too dry, add a little of the pasta water to thin it out.

If you prefer a chunky sauce, you can just chop the tomatoes into small dice* and let them cook down that way. If it's a bit too chunky, give it a few whacks with a potato masher when it's just about done until.

Also Lidia Bastinach has a quite good, simple recipe that you would like if you have lots of fresh tomatos and basil --- and which I can't seem to find online --- but basically what you do is take your tomatoes and slice them in half, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover each half with a generous spoonful of breadcrumb mixture. (Fine soft breadcrumbs, chopped basil, salt, pepper and a few table spoons of olive oil to help the breadcrumbs stick together.) Coat a baking sheet with olive oil and place the tomatoes on it, then roast in a hot oven --- 425 or so --- for about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have collapsed a bit and are very soft and the breadcrumbs are toasted. (How long you have to roast depends how big your tomatoes are. She used fairly small ones.) Toss the tomatoes with a long pasta --- lidia used a long corkscrew one that was particularly good --- adding a generous handful of grated cheese and bit more olive oil. Basically what happens here is that the breadcrumbs and juices from the roasted tomatoes stick to the pasta and make a defacto sauce. It's delicious.

*Hmmm....just thinking, maybe that means nothing to you if you don't cook much. I looked on youtube --- there's a bunch of videos on dicing tomato, but they all do it cooking school style where you discard the seeds and pulp. That's where all the flavor in a tomato is, so you're better off just doing what this somewhat irritating woman does to an onion. Tomatos are kind of slippery --- if you don't have a very sharp knife, you might consider using a serrated knife, like a cheese knife or bread knife for this purpose.
posted by Diablevert at 5:19 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

my absolute favourite summer pasta is this: peel and finely chop the tomatoes, add a clove of finely minced garlic, salt, lots of chopped basil, olive oil and crushed chili peppers (this is the base, you can add more stuff such as a few chopped olives, or capers...) Let rest at room temperature for half an hour or so, dress pasta with it. Done.

(I also second the pasta with the baked tomatoes from Diablevert, it's awesome and perfect as a cold dish too)
posted by _dario at 11:21 PM on July 12, 2009

To make my own pasta sauce I simply roast some diced tomatoes with salt, pepper, herb, and garlic until done (about 10-15 mins at 400, and stir midway). You will never buy store bought sauce again.

Also, make pesto. Cut up some basil and garlic. Add salt. Drag your knife's edge back and forth against the mixture until it becomes oily and soft. Add more basil, etc. Repeat until you have about a fist sized ball. Add a little olive oil. Now cook your pasta. Drain. Add and stir.

Or, simply add diced tomatoes and basil to pasta as is. Some mozzarella and kalamata olives would go great with this.

As an appetizer, slice some tomatoes and top with salt and basil. Or dice with garlic and basil and put on toasted bread.

If you're adding them to a salad, do take a spoon and remove the pulp. Water is an enemy of salad, and will prevent the components from adhering to dressing, amongst other things.

Pickle some of your green tomatoes in a jar. Look up any pickling recipe on the internet, though all you really need a jar with water, two tablespoons salt, and a week's time in the fridge.

You could make barbecue sauce, but only if you really want to use up a bucket of tomatoes fast. Warning: this takes about 8 hours to do :-)
posted by xammerboy at 11:22 AM on July 13, 2009

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula. This can be made with any fresh tomatoes and is insanely easy--you let the fresh ingredients sit in a bowl for 15 to 30 minutes, and then just toss with pasta. No cooking involved at all besides boiling the pasta. Not the fanciest thing in the world, but an ideal way to lunch when you have a garden full of tomatoes--particularly if you're also growing basil, which you probably can as tomatoes and basil both need hot sunny weather. Angel Hair with Tomatoes, Basil, and Garlic works too, and the sauce cooks in under 5 minutes. Both of these are so simple they can only be pulled off with fresh, wonderful tomatoes.

This isn't marinara or even a sauce, but Tomatoes filled with Rice are incredible, as is Tomato Bread Pudding/Gratin and Zucchini and Tomato Frittata. All of these dishes are astronomically better the better and fresher the tomatoes are.
posted by ifjuly at 3:14 PM on July 15, 2009

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