There is a point in any growing season when the tomatoes, peppers and onions all seem to be ripe together. If you don’t garden, you can still enjoy this explosion because your grocery store will feature enormous vegetables at incredibly low prices. This was the week here in central Iowa. Peppers of all colors were 88 cents each. Onions and tomatoes were plentiful and all of the food was grown locally by nearby farmers. I loaded my grocery cart, preparing to make this easy concoction.
Now, this is not a traditional Italian tomato sauce. This is a quick blend of vegetables that I wash, dice and then stew together to form a “starter brew.” I put containers of my veggie brew into the freezer so that when the prices of peppers and tomatoes go really high again, I won’t panic.
How do I use the brew?
That’s the fun part.
I pour it over pork chops, pork loin roasts, chicken or beef roasts.
It works in the slow cooker or in a roasting pan to give meats flavor and extra vegetable power.
I use it as a soup starter either as it is or blended to create a vegetable base.
For an hour or so of hard core chopping time, I got six containers of my meal starter. Pretty good trade off.
Of course, you can just chop the veggies and freeze them in baggies when the prices are so ripe. But this takes them to another level by blending so many together.
Note on spices: I don’t use many so that I can push the brew in any direction later – making an Italian, Mexican or even Indian dish by adding specific spices when I’m actually cooking a meal.
There is no one way to make this. If you want to use lots of really hot peppers, add them. The list below is just what I did this week. It varies every time I make it.
I TBS olive oil
2 large onions, diced
1 whole garlic, with the cloves minced
15 or so tomatoes – I used two varieties
5 stalks celery, diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 large zucchini, chopped (This IS zucchini week, after all.)
1 green pepper, diced
3 red peppers, diced
2 yellow peppers, diced
1 TBS sea salt
In a large soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic for a minute or two.
Add the rest of the vegetables and the salt and any other spices you like.
Let the mixture cook on a medium-low setting for 10 – 15 minutes. If this seems dry, turn the heat down and smash the tomatoes.
When the vegetables have wilted and are getting saucy, take them off the heat to cool.
At this point you may want to put some in the blender or just cool the entire works. I added ice cubes to speed the cooling process since there was no water added to the vegetables as they cooked.
Scoop into freezer containers, label and freeze.
Note on containers: for years I used Tupperware, but the tomato sauce always stained the containers. Now I just save my yogurt and cottage cheese containers and use these.
If you’re planning to use one of the frozen veggie brews on a roast or other item, take it out of the freezer the day before you need it and let it thaw in the fridge.