Marinara Sauce -for your freezer

This sauce is a big deal. It will take several hours and make a huge mess. It is however, one of the most flavorful sauces that I have ever had. It also is so healthy and an awesome thing to have in the freezer for a hectic night. This recipe makes about 12-18 quarts, but you can half it for a smaller batch. Your kids will never know they ate something healthy (since the veggie's are pureed, and the sauce is still bright red)

To all those of you who want something to do with all the tomatoes, peppers and zucchini's from your garden, here you go!

I got this box of about 75 tomatoes from a fruit stand and it cost me $17. A good price, not the best deal, but still worth it for garden-fresh juicy tomatoes. I then got my zucchini and squash from my Dad's co-worker's garden.
(this batch of marinara used every vegetable shown here, plus 2/3 of the tomatoes)

You will need:

30 cans of 15 oz. stewed tomatoes with juice (whole) or 40-50 fresh tomatoes
1 8 oz. package mushrooms *I doubled the mushrooms
3 large fresh garlic cloves
1/3 cup salt (or more depending on taste)
1 Tablespoon pepper
Red pepper flakes, optional *I used 1 tsp
1 1/2 pounds carrots *I used about 8 large, un-peeled carrots
1 bunch celery
3 medium white onions *I used 4
any other vegetables *I also used 5 green bell peppers, 1 huge zucchini and 1 yellow squash
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 Tablespoons fresh basil - save for very end!
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 cans tomato paste for thickening

* I also added 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. dried parsley, 1 tsp. dried thyme, & 1 tsp. dried rosemary

* All vegetables and their quantities are optional. Use however much of whatever you have!

you will also need two large pots, a powerful blender (I used a vita-mix) and several ziplock quart size freezer bags.

Use a food processor or blender to puree all the veggies, onions and garlic. This will most likely take several blenders-full. I gave the washed veggies a rough chop, then put them in the blender with two tomatoes at the bottom. The tomatoes at the bottom usually gave the blender just enough liquid to chop the rest of it. For a meatier sauce, don't puree your veggies, just chop them finely.

Once the veggies are all pureed, put them into a pot with the olive oil and let them sauté over medium to medium high heat for about 15 minutes. Add all the seasonings. Then equally separate the pureed veggies into two pots. To start your tomatoes, I would wash them, cut out their belly-buttons and cut them in half. Fill the blender and puree. Again, pour equal amounts of tomato puree into each pot. Add tomato paste. Stir well and allow sauce to simmer for 2-5 hours on low without the lid, stirring occasionally. Sauce should reduce about one third. Add the fresh basil right before serving. Taste the sauce to make sure it doesn't need any more salt/sugar/seasoning. (If you are using fresh tomatoes, you may need more salt/sugar to balance the acid.) Let sauce cool then freeze in bags/tupperware for later meals.

The original recipe also called for 4 pounds of italian sausage, which I didn't use. By all means, you can add it, or any other ground meat to your sauce. I figure it takes about 3 minutes to brown ground beef/turkey/sausage, and sometimes, I just prefer no meat. (like if I am using the sauce for pizza or calzone) when I made this, I seemed to have let my sauce simmer too long, because I only ended up with 9 freezer quart size bags, which I am still happy about. The best part? It tastes awesome! My four year old daughter LOVED it. I think it was worth all the work. Thank you Becca for sharing the recipe with me!