1 Lg Sweet Onion
3 Ripe Tomatoes
1 Small Zucchini
1 Small Yellow Summer Squash
1 Small Red Bell Pepper
1 Cup Fresh Mushrooms
3 Ribs Celery
3-4 Cloves Garlic
28 oz Can Tomato Sauce
10 oz Can Tomato Puree
6 oz Can Tomato Paste
2-3 Tbs sugar
2 tsp thyme
1 TBS oregano and basil
dried mushrooms, optl not really
Chop the Vidalia onion into 3 or 4 manageable pieces and drop into the food processor with the carrot and celery, also broken into pieces. Reduce to a very fine mulch.
To a large pot over medium heat, drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil and let this trio of onion, carrot, celery soften and caramelize for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the chopped and seeded tomato for another 7 or 8 minutes to soften. Add the Tomato Sauce, Paste, and Puree with one cup or two of water, which will mostly cook out as the sauce concentrates and condenses over lowest heat for the next hour or so. You can simmer it less, say 30 min, but it will not be as good. There, said it. You choose. Before you go off and leave it, add some fresh thyme, if you have it, stripping the tiny leaves off the stem by sliding it through your fingers from the top of the stem downward (doesn't work well the other way, you'll see). If you don't have fresh use 2 tsp of dried and 1 TBS oregano and basil. Also add 2-3 crushed garlic cloves at this point with 1 Tbs salt and 2-3 Tbs sugar. Now, your sauce is almost ready to very slowly bubble along, being stirred occasionally to be sure it isn't sticking. Don't cover it completely, but you'll want to set the lid ajar or use a splatter screen unless you'd like a speckled kitchen.
One more thing to add right now! One of my favorite secret additions to oh-so-tasty sauces, soups, meat rubs, and more is dried mushroom powder, a powerful punch of "umami" which the Japanese consider one of the mysterious food elements that has the power to improve all the other flavors in a dish, sort of like a natural MSG. It's very simple to make and keeps practically forever. Buy a dried mushroom blend and whir it in the coffee bean grinder. That's it. You'll have umami powder in about 30 seconds. It's easy to find these dried blends at most any grocery, usually placed in or near produce, often close to the fresh mushrooms. Sort through the pieces and choose the crispiest, driest ones for the best grinding. *Note:I use my grinder for spices and such only. Coffee beans never touch it for I fear their harsh oils will be impossible to remove.*
When your sauce has bubbled for at least 30 minutes or as long as 90, add the rest of the vegetables. I like everything fairly uniform in size, maybe 1/2" pieces, except the fresh mushrooms, which are better chopped finer.
Obviously this is a sauce I make on a day when I'm home piddling around in the kitchen or nearby doing other things since it simmers a good while. If you want it to be even better, make it a day or two ahead and let it improve in the fridge a bit more. Better yet, double the recipe and freeze several quart bags of it for a happy, later day!
Jan Burke. http://dailydishinblog.blogspot.com/