Tomato Sauce from Scratch

In Season,Summer
August 3, 2011

With a windfall of super-ripe tomatoes, Editor Jill Melton whips up a fresh all-purpose tomato sauce that serves a multitude of purposes all summer long.

Stuffed Manicotti
By Jill Melton
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Due to my daughter's employment at a local produce stand this summer,  baskets of super-ripe, second-hand tomatoes (covered by a kitchen towel to keep the fruit flies at bay) occupy every square inch of my kitchen.

But unlike apples, oranges or pears, that lay patiently waiting to be eaten or cooked in a pie, these juicy red orbs  are impatient and restless, itchy to plunge into a saucepan of sauteed onions for a fresh sauce, or  a blender with cucumber for a cooling gazpacho.

So I've coined this my "summer of sauce," which has been perpetually simmering on the back of the stove. I'm sure there are better or more elaborate recipes for sauce, but I can't find one that suits me better. I don't use tomato paste or any thickener here, so this is a fresh chunky sauce with bits of colorful tomatoes about.

The ingredients are simple: basil from my garden, an onion, a red bell pepper for sweetness, and a splash of vinegar, salt and sugar and some raw garlic to punch it up. It's a multi-purpose sauce—that with a dose of heavy cream morphs into creamy tomato basil soup or with chunks of fresh mozzarella and croutons, a gazpacho. And of course it's a sauce for manicotti as it is here. Enjoy.

— By Jill Melton, Editor

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Cheese and Zucchini Stuffed Manicotti

This summer pasta dish stars an easy, homemade tomato sauce, fresh zucchini squash and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.