I always forget about the existence of slow cookers in the summer, since comfort food at this time of year comes more in the form of barbecue and no-bake, but this recipe makes pulling it out an absolute must! If you think making your own tomato sauce is too time consuming, you need this recipe in your life – throw it all in, let it cook, use some tonight and freeze lots for later. This tomato sauce is guaranteed to become a freezer staple for anyone who loves the idea of homemade tomato sauce but cringes at the thought of execution (um, hello, that’s me). Mom’s outdone herself this time!
Crushed tomatoes, water, sugar/glucose-fructose, vegetables (dried garlic, onions, basil and parsley), modified corn starch, salt, vegetable oil (canola or soybean), vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, tamarinds, caramel, citric acid, natural flavour, spices.
Ok, your job is to identify what product has the above ingredient list. Crushed tomatoes is a good clue, but are tamarinds?? Sounds like a kind of monkey! Glucose-fructose? Molasses? Corn syrup? Caramel? Some kind of tomato based candy? Nope, try again…
If you guessed Primo Thick and Rich Pasta Sauce, you win the prize!
Now if you have happened to read any of my other contributions to Anna’s blog, you will know that I am not averse to shortcuts and have readily admitted to the use of frozen meatballs and coleslaw mix. But when I pulled this can out of the cupboard, after buying it quickly on sale without checking the label at the store, and read the ingredients, I was truly flabbergasted.
While I know there are many other companies who make pasta sauce who are able to boast of a much shorter, and ‘realer’ list of ingredients, I decided to take advantage of my garden’s harvest and make my own. This is a slow cooker version that calls for canned tomatoes but is easily switched to your own fresh tomatoes, taking advantage of your garden’s or market’s bounty this time of year. I use garden fresh tomatoes, red pepper, onions, basil, oregano and garlic. That makes me happy. I only wish my garden would cooperate and also be willing to grow the carrots and zucchini.
The quantity made is meant for dividing and freezing for future delicious meals of pasta, pizza, soup or whatever you use tomato sauce for – just leave enough space at the top of your jars (about an inch) for freezing to make sure expansion doesn’t mean explosion :)
This is a great sauce which can be changed to suit your taste. I puree it, but keep it chunkier if you like. If you want it thicker, add more tomato paste. If you like it meaty, add Italian sausage or spice up and brown some ground beef to add to it. Love cheese? (Yes, Mom, I sure do). Add cheese! (Done). As is, this is just a delicious basic sauce that is perfect for anyone, including those who are gluten free, lactose free, or vegan. It smells amazing and tastes so fresh, I promise you really won’t miss the corn syrup, caramel or tamarinds.
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 small zucchini, diced
- 1 sweet red pepper, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 can (156 ml) tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano, or 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- ¼ tsp hot pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp granulated sugar
- 2- 28oz (796 ml) cans diced tomatoes, or the equivalent of fresh tomatoes (*see note)
- 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low until vegetables are tender, about 8 hours. Turn off heat. Puree to desired consistency with immersion hand blender or let cool slightly and puree in batches in a food processor or blender.
- Let cool to room temperature, then store in plastic or glass containers, leaving at least ½” headspace for freezing. Store sauce in fridge if using within 5 days.
- Makes about 9 cups.
(Adapted from Canadian Living)