The garden has more tomatoes than I can use fresh, and some were starting to turn bad, so I made a big “Use-Up” Pot of Marinara Sauce to freeze our summer bounty for winter. I mainly needed to get my tomatoes used before they were wasted, but this sauce is a great way to throw in a zucchini or bell pepper, herbs like basil and oregano, or a few extra greens like spinach or kale. A lot of that summer harvest can get thrown in with the help of a food processor. Similar to my Italian Sausage Bolognese Sauce this recipe could be made from canned tomatoes and dried herbs as well and is super healthy and great for family friendly meals.
If you have the freezer space, I prefer freezing to canning. It just feels like less of an ordeal, less rules to follow, and you can use whatever amount of tomatoes you have. I freeze the marinara in different sized jars, perfect to thaw out for an easy Flatbread Pizza for the kid’s lunch, or to throw in with pasta, use on Meatball Subs, or Grilled Eggplant Paninis. These are handy little jars to have in the freezer.
Our second year in the garden was overall a success, we did indeed grow a lot of food. Finding ways to preserve more for winter is one of my favorite fall-is-coming projects!
Freezer Garden Marinara Sauce
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 1 zucchini or bell pepper optional
- 4 cloves garlic
- 8 to 14 tomatoes amount is flexible, add as much as you have, (2-3 large canned tomatoes can be substituted)
- 1 t kosher salt
- 8 grinds fresh black pepper
- ½ c herbs or greens such as basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley or spinach amount is flexible, or sub 1 t dried Italian seasoning
- Roughly chop onion and zucchini or bell pepper and pulse in a food processor until finely diced
- Set a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add oil
- Saute the veggies with a pinch of salt and pepper
- Finely mince garlic in the food processor and add to sautéing veggies
- Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop your tomatoes, remove any bad spots and pulse in the food processor, keep some texture, don't totally puree. Transfer each batch to the pot and saute with the other veggies until you've processed all your tomatoes. The amount of tomatoes you use is totally flexible. If you aren't using up garden tomatoes, 2-3 large cans of tomatoes can be used
- Season with salt and pepper and add herbs
- Let sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, bubbling slightly until it reduces to the right consistency, about an hour but can vary depending on how many tomatoes you use. You are basically reducing the water to make the sauce as thick as you like
- When sauce is done, allow to cool on the stovetop
- Store sauce in different sized jars or containers, cool completely in the fridge, then freeze. Smaller sized jars can be used for lunch flatbread pizzas or larger jars for pasta dinners, whatever your intended use. Fill jars about ⅔ full to allow the sauce to expand as it freezes and not crack the jars. To use, thaw overnight in the fridge