Spaghetti was a weekly staple growing up. I often cook spaghetti because it is a quick and easy meal. It is a fantastic fall back to have jars of spaghetti sauce and noodles in the cupboard for when you have a craving for pasta. The fresh alternative to canned spaghetti sauce is what I have come to call garden spaghetti. I invented it when I had ample fresh summer veggies in my garden with little patience to preserve it all. In the off-season I substitute canned tomatoes and frozen vegetables. If you don’t have access to fresh homegrown ingredients you can still make sauce, but I find it does not taste as good as sauce made with sun ripened vegetables.
Just in time for the autumn weather, my early girl tomatoes have finally turned red. I cooked up a batch of spaghetti sauce last week with our ripened tomatoes. I think of this recipe as a combination of stir-fry and marinara sauce. I enjoy chunks of onion and carrots in my sauce. You can easily add any vegetables that you grow in your garden. Each batch is unique and savory. If you prefer a creamer texture it would be easy to purée the sauce in a food processor or blender before serving.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium diced onion
- 1 diced carrot
- 1 diced celery, or any additional firm veggies
- 1 bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped green beans, or like veggies
- 3-4 large cubed tomatoes
- 2-3 cloves garlic mashed (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon each of garden fresh herbs: thyme, basil, oregano, whatever suits your tastes
- 1 eight ounce can of tomato paste (optional)
First heat a frying pan and put enough olive oil in the pan to cover the bottom. Add the onions, carrots, celery and other firm veggies to the warmed oil and simmer over medium heat until they are tender. Stir every few minutes throughout the entire cooking process. You should start to notice the onions become translucent. Next add your remaining veggies, except the tomatoes, and cover with a lid. Continue to simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, garlic and seasonings. At this point, your kitchen should smell delicious. Remove the lid and simmer until the tomatoes start to warm up and fall apart on their own. The sauce is more of an Italian stir-fry at this stage (also delicious). If you want a thicker more traditional Italian sauce add the can of tomato paste. If you abhor chunky vegetables, or have young children, purée the sauce in a food processor (or blender). Place on top of freshly cooked pasta.