Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hand-Crushed San Marzano Tomato Sauce

Just because we're freezing our butts off here in the Northeast and there's not a tomato crop in sight doesn't mean we can't still enjoy beautiful homemade tomato sauce. If you missed the boat last summer of storing enough fresh tomato sauce to last through the winter it's not too late! Believe it or not, you can still achieve a beautiful pot of sauce from canned whole tomatoes. In this particular recipe, I chose to use a large piece of pork to add to my sauce pot, but you could throw in anything. Try meatballs, sausages, braciole, or even calamarri and shrimp!

  • Large piece of pork, about 1-2 lbs
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 3 28oz cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes (if you have trouble finding them in the regular grocery store, try an Italian grocery or Italian meat store)
  • 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste, if needed)
  • 1/8 tsp pepper (plus more to taste, if needed)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh basil leaves
  1. Prepare the canned tomatoes by pouring them into a very large bowl. Crush the tomatoes by squeezing them in your hands until all the large pieces are broken up.
  2. In a large 6qt saucepan, sear the pork briefly on all sides on high heat with 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil. Remove the meat, reserving the juices in the pan, and put the pork on a plate off to the side.
  3. In the same pan, saute the carrot and onion until soft on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and continue to saute another 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the can of tomato paste and saute another 30 seconds.
  4. Add the bowl of crushed tomatoes along with the salt, pepper, oregano, and bay leaves. Don't put the basil in just yet. Stir the pot well and then nestle the pork back in. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer on low 3-6 hours. The longer the sauce cooks, the thicker and more fragrant it will be. You want to at least cook it long enough so that the meat falls apart when pulled with a fork. Taste regularly and add more salt/spices as needed.
  5. Tear apart 2 - 3 large handfuls of basil leaves and stir into the sauce right before serving to maintain the freshness and flavor of the herb. Serve over zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash.
Not a fan of getting my hands dirty. Gloves for the win!

Growing up, my mom and grandmother always added white sugar to their sauce to cut the acid of the tomatoes, but carrot actually does the same thing and is a much healthier alternative! Grated up small like this, you can't even tell it's in there.

All ingredients prepped and ready to go!
The Italian grocery store actually sells packaged pork labelled "for sauce". Perfecto!

Nestle the pork back into the pan

Fin! Bellissimo!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dirty Dozen / Clean 15 (2013)

It's that time of year again! The Environmental Working Group published the findings for the 2013 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.

The below are in no particular order, and you'll notice the Dirty Dozen once again has a "plus category" for crops that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system.

If you're new to this, what does it mean and why do you need to know this? Well, the Dirty Dozen are the 12 fruits and vegetables that test for the highest amounts of pesticide residues that are harmful to the human body. It is recommended to purchase these as "organic" where possible to avoid such residue from traditionally-farmed crops. Will you drop dead if you eat it anyway? Nope. And many times, the benefits of eating the fruit and veggie outweigh the risk of it having pesticide residue. Just ensure if you do purchase an item off the Dirty Dozen list that isn't organic that you thoroughly wash it prior to consumption.

Conversely, the Clean 15 are the 15 fruits and veggies with the lowest traces of pesticide residue. Unless you prefer the taste or have the bucks to spend on it, no need to purchase these babies as organic. Good to know when you're working on a tight food budget.

Here are my posts from previous years in case you want to read more about how I use these lists for my own family.
2012's Dirty Dozen and Clean 15
2011's Dirty Dozen and Clean 15