The dog days of summer are drawing to a close, cool nights and warm, sunny August days. These are perfect days for working in the garden. I don’t get the required amount of sunlight in my backyard to allow me to grow vegetables, so I just plant herbs, and often cherry tomatoes. Isn’t it it exciting though when friends show up with a load of fresh produce from their garden and leave it on your porch? The past couple of years I’ve been very fortunate with my good friends doing just that. I had the opportunity to visit my friend’s Dad’s orchard this past July 4th, and what I saw was absolutely amazing! Four acres with rows and rows of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchini and fruit. A lot of hard work tending to these fruit and vegetables and it was all lovingly cared for. With the past harsh winter that we experienced, they lost quite a few of their fig trees, so I was not able to bake the Upside Down Fig Cake that I have made with the figs in previous years. After all that tender loving care that went into them, I thought I could whip up a few dishes with some family favorites and some new ones to try. Today, I present to you, Garden Fresh Spaghetti Sauce, Eggplant Gratin, and Zucchini Ribbons with Fresh Dill, Mint and Feta. Summer’s bounty was surely put to good use.
Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce
- 3 pounds Ground Beef (I used extra lean)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 whole large onions, diced
- 2 whole green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 6 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 cup white wine (or low sodium beef broth if you prefer)
- 6 fresh large tomatoes (peeled and diced)
- 1 small 4 ounce can tomato paste
- 1 chorizo link
- 1 tsp ground Oregano
- 1 tsp ground Thyme
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 3 whole bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley
- 1 whole rind from one parmesan wedge (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 pounds spaghetti, cooked al dente and tossed with olive oil
- extra minced parsley, for serving
- extra parmesan cheese, for serving
- fresh torn basil leaves
Gathering my ingredients
In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until totally browned. Remove meat from pot with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl. Set aside.
Discard any grease in pot. Drizzle in olive oil. When it is heated, throw in the diced onion, bacon and diced bell pepper. Stir it around for a couple minutes, then add the garlic, stir and cook for an additional minute. My secret ingredient is chorizo, cube a link of chorizo and add it to the pot. At this point I chopped up some fresh basil and added it to the mix too. Add the browned meat and let it absorb all the flavors.
Blanch, then rough chop the tomatoes. (You do this by cutting an X at the stem end of each tomato, pour boiling water and let it stand for about 3-4 minutes until you see the skin begin to loosen. Peel at the X.
I decided to use the Cuisinart stick to crush the tomatoes and give the sauce a smoother consistency.
Back to the pot and sautéing the vegetables and ground beef…now add some white wine (a couple of glugs for me) stir this around for a couple of minutes. Next I added the crushed tomatoes and dry spices….
tomato paste, oregano, Italian seasoning, thyme, salt, bay leaves and some more basil.
Cut a wedge of the parmesan cheese and throw it in the pot for added flavor.
Grate some parmesan cheese and sprinkle with fresh parsley…. and there you have it, about 3 meals of spaghetti and meat sauce with plenty of leftovers.
Eggplant gratin with fresh parmesan
Zucchini Ribbons with fresh dill, mint and a sprinkling of feta (which I did not have)
I’m bringing Summer’s bounty to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #31 – it is a linky party where folks from far and wide share their recipes, and ideas. Go on, click on the link to find out more.