Everything about this sauce is good for your body– farm fresh Heirloom tomatoes (cancer fighting, low in calories), kale (superfood packed with enough nutrients to be one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet), parsley (often overlooked as just a garnish, it is a powerhouse of nutrients) and fennel (at its peak from fall to early spring; it is crunchy and sweet with an abundance of phytonutrients).
And everything about this sauce is good for your taste buds. I enjoy wandering through my local farm stand [South Coast Farms] hoping the vivid colors and freshness of the fruits and veggies will light up the think tank in my head. On this particular day, the Heirloom tomatoes filled every corner of a wooden table with hues of reds and yellows and greens. I loaded up my wicker farm stand basket with tomatoes and other veggies and headed home envisioning a bubbling marinara on the stove.
Trust me, I am not one to skimp on taste for health. I try to eat healthy but love food and the creativity of new flavors. The first time I made this marinara, I also made Ina Garten’s Rosemary Polenta to go alongside. No calories were saved (hello butter) but together the flavors came together for a beautiful meal.
Next week, Cashmere Apron is going to hit on some simple entertaining ideas for the hustle-bustle of the holiday season. Look for this sauce to make a re-appearance in a rustic holiday menu for 10.
7 large organic Heirloom tomatoes
4 Tb olive oil, divided
1/2 Tb Kosher salt
Cracked fresh pepper
1/4 cup fennel, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium leek, diced
1/2 cup diced organic parsley
1/2 cup diced organic kale
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 large shallot, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1-1/2 tsp Cumin
1 stick unsalted butter
3 Tb Pale Dry Sherry
2, 15 ounce cans organic tomato sauce
1, 6 ounce can tomato paste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Roughly chop the Heirloom tomatoes and fit onto baking tray (it’s fine to squeeze them in). Drizzle the tomatoes with 2 Tb olive oil and the 1/2 Tb Kosher salt. Sprinkle lightly with freshly cracked pepper. Put baking sheet in oven and roast tomatoes for 30 to 35 minutes.
While tomatoes are roasting, chop, mince and dice the remaining ingredients so they are ready to go when the tomatoes come out of the oven.
Once tomatoes have roasted for approximately 35 minutes, remove from oven and let sit. Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat with the remaining 2 Tb of olive oil. Once butter is melted add sherry and stir lightly. Add fennel, carrot, leeks, shallot, garlic, jalapeño and cumin and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Add kale, parsley and basil and sauté for 2 more minutes until fully blended.
To the Dutch oven add the roasted tomatoes along with the natural tomato liquid that collects beneath the tomatoes when they are in the oven. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste to the mixture and stir all of the ingredients together thoroughly.
With an immersion blender on medium speed, gradually blend the roasted Heirloom tomatoes in the Dutch oven. Blend the Heirloom tomatoes until the sauce is a smoother texture. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for at least 90 minutes.
I have always made this sauce a day in advance which seems to let the flavors meld together even better. This recipe makes enough for eight to ten people+ left-overs. Serve separately as a soup, mix in with quinoa, enjoy over pasta, spread over a grilled steak, use as a pizza sauce…the options are infinite!