Just when summer starts about to wrap up in the Northeast and we still have lots of juicy fresh tomatoes and apples start to appear at the farmers market is when I make this delicious marinara sauce variation. The sweetness of the apples complements greatly the low acidity of the seasonal tomatoes. Don’t feel afraid to use the traditional onions and garlic in this sauce, plus some hot chilies as well for an extra kick. Serve with wholewheat pasta and lightly steamed zuchinni, squash and some halved brussel sprouts that also start pouring during the early fall weeks.
Makes about 7 cups
1 yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 cup no added sodium vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons No Salt Added Italian Seasoning (or a combination of dried oregano and basil)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped tablespoon of no-salt added tomato paste
4 lbs of fresh tomatoes, roughly diced
4 apples (any kind will work), cored and diced (skin peeled if not organic)
3 tablespoons fresh basil, stemmed and chopped
1 dried bay leaf
red crushed chilies (optional)
In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, steam sauté the onion with a tablespoon or tw of water or broth at a time to avoid sticking, stirring frequently until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add water or broth as needed to prevent sticking. Add the dried herbs. Add the tomato paste and the minced garlic and continue cooking onion mixture just until it starts to turn a darker yello color, about 5 more minutes. Add the fresh tomatoes and apples and stir well. Cover with a lid ajar and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium low and continue cooking for another 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. As sauce begins to thicken, add any remaining broth and season with black pepper to taste. When done, turn off heat and add fresh herbs and crushed red chilies if using, stir and allow to cool.
Serve over whole-wheat pasta with lightly steamed veggies (carrots, zuchinni, squash and halved brussels sprouts) or cool to room temperature and freeze for later use. Sauce freezes well and may be used just as any marinara sauce.