Introduction: Don't-Let-the-Tomatoes-Go-Bad Marinara Sauce

It's the time of year when my counter is overflowing with tomatoes I've bought and been given by family and friends.

Last night I noticed the basket of cherry tomatoes I bought were starting to shrivel a little, so I decided to make a delicious marinara sauce to use them up. I also had a few homegrown tomatoes from my parents' garden, so I threw them in, too.

This sauce doesn't take too long to make, and it feels good to use up fresh tomatoes before they get moldy or turn into dried tomatoes (I think the acidity level of the tomato determines which way it will go).

Ingredients I used:

  • Tomatoes ( all sizes and colors — the more variety, the more interesting the flavor)
  • Olive oil
  • Red onion
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Dried rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • Salt

Step 1: Chop Tomatoes

Chop the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Get rid of any tough, woody parts — sometimes the part right under the stem is worth tossing.

Step 2: Simmer

Throw the tomatoes in a saucepan on low heat. Bring them to a simmer, and then shake them in the pan or stir occasionally.

I've seen some recipes where you strain out the tomato skins and seeds. No! The skins contain a higher concentration of the carotenoids and flavenols, and those are good for you. Besides, you're not a baby that needs puréed food (probably). So leave the skins in.

Step 3: Chop Onion and Garlic

Finely chop an onion and some garlic. I used a small red onion and about 12 cloves of garlic, because... well, I don't have to defend my garlic choices. That's what I did.

Step 4: Sauté Onion and Garlic

Turn the heat on medium-low under a small saucepan. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat for a few seconds, and then add the chopped onion. Sauté for about a minute, then add the garlic.

Cook for a couple minutes, until the onion starts to look slightly translucent. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, your tomatoes should still be simmering. Take a whiff. They smell so good!

Step 5: Add Basil and Combine

Get a few leaves of basil, scrunch them together, and slice into thin strips.

Add the basil and the onion-garlic mixture to the tomatoes and combine. Mmm, it's starting to look and smell really tasty.

Step 6: Add Herbs and Seasonings and Let Simmer

Now it's time to add herbs. I used rosemary, sage, and thyme. I ended up adding more than what is shown here, because I like strong-flavored sauce. Add salt at this point, too.

Taste it periodically and make additions as you see fit. Remember: you can always add a little more, but you can't take it out once it's mixed in, so just add a little at a time.

Altogether, I'd say I simmered the sauce for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 7: Bon Appétit!

Now it's business time. What do you want to put your sauce on? French bread pizza? Polenta? I didn't do anything fancy, I just had it on some spaghetti. (I actually prefer angel hair pasta, but I didn't have any.)

I topped it with some pre-grated Parmesan and Romano cheese dust, and it was delicious.