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August 16, 2013

Tomatoes are in season!


If you’re growing them, chances are you have so many by now, you don’t even know what to do with them. You probably don’t have enough friends, neighbors and or co-workers to place all of your babies in good and loving families.

And if you’re not growing them yourself, then you can buy them at your local farmers market for a ridiculously low price.

In fact, they usually sell them by the [very large] bucket at this time of year.

While the most obvious thing to do with that many tomatoes would be to can them, I thought hey, why not make a delicious Bolognese Sauce instead?

Spaghetti sauce made entirely with fresh tomatoes! It doesn’t get much better than this, let me tell you!

Ultimately, it does involve a little bit more work than opening a couple of cans of tomatoes (which you can still totally do if you decide to make this recipe when tomatoes are NOT in season OR if you don’t really want to be bothered peeling a few dozen fresh tomatoes) but the final result and knowing that you created this dish totally from scratch is so incredibly rewarding, it makes it totally worth your while.

Plus, peeling tomatoes isn’t that hard, really… Here’s how it goes:

  • Carve a shallow X at the bottom of each tomato.
  • Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water, no more than 3 or 4 at a time, and leave them in there for about 30 seconds.
  • Remove the blanched tomatoes to a cutting board (or ice water bath) and allow them to cool for a few minutes, then gently pull away the skin starting at the points created by the X. It should come off super easily.

Once your tomatoes are good and peeled, the rest of the process is fairly simple:

  • Sear the meat until it’s beautiful and nice and golden brown on all sides. I like to use stew cubes because I like my sauce to contain large, chunky pieces of super tender meat, but you can very well use ground beef instead, if you prefer.
  • Cut the peeled tomatoes in quarters, remove the “stems” then cut the wedges into smaller chunks.
  • Add the tomatoes to the meat, plus the water, seasoning and bay leaves, stir well and bring to a slow simmer.
  • After that, you’re pretty much done. Just let your sauce simmer away for a very loooooong time. Oh, and you might want to stir from time to time and get a good whiff at every occasion you get.

When your sauce is ready, it’s time to work on your “pasta”. I just recently discovered that spiralized rutabaga makes the BEST pasta ever.

Both the flavor AND the texture work extremely well with robust sauces such as this Bolognese.

Just make sure that, when you buy your rutabaga with this particular purpose in mind, you pick the smallest ones of the lot, as they will be a lot easier to spiralize. Plus, they will give you continuous strands, where as the bigger ones you would probably have to cut into smaller pieces and you wouldn’t be getting the same long noodle effect.

Also, rutabaga being a rather firm vegetable, you might not be able to spiralize them the conventional way, and by that I mean with the help of the handle. You’re probably gonna have to spin in by hand, so be extra careful not to cut your fingers, especially when you get towards the end (who, me? NOOOO, I most certainly did not do that…)

And there you have it: “Spaghetti” fit for a King.

All in all, rutabaga pasta might represent bit more work than throwing a bunch of dried noodles in a pot of boiling water, but they will reward you with an experience that’s simply unparalleled. Everyone I know who has tried them absolutely LOVED them.

Personally, I now even prefer them to the real thing. Seriously.

Take my word for it,  you NEED to give them a try!

Servings: 6

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 950 g grassfed stew beef cubes
  • 12-14 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 2 large (794g) cans diced tomatoes)
  • 6-7 fresh tomatoes, peeled, diced and pureed in a food processor (or 1 large (794g) can crushed tomatoes)
  • cups water
  • tsp Himalayan or fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp crushed chili peppers
  • 3 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 4 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 4-6 small rutabagas, spiralized

If using fresh tomatoes:

  • In a large stockpot, bring about 12-14 cups of water to a roaring boil.

  • Meanwhile, using a sharp paring knife, carve a shallow X at the bottom of each tomato.

  • Using a slotted spoon, plunge the tomatoes in the boiling water, no more than 3 or 4 at a time, and leave them in there for about 30 seconds.

  • Remove the blanched tomatoes to a cutting board and allow them to cool for a few minutes, until you can safely handle them (you could also remove them to a bath of icy cold water to speed up the process). Gently pull away the skin starting at the points created by the X. It should come off super easily.

  • Cut the tomatoes in quarters, remove the “stems” then cut your tomatoes into smaller chunks. If using only fresh tomatoes, grab the equivalent of 6 or 7 tomatoes and puree them in the food processor. Set that aside while you work on the meat.

  • Heat some coconut oil, or lard, or ghee in a large stockpot set over medium-high heat. Add the pieces of meat in a single layer, taking extra care to leave a good amount of space between them so that air has a chance to circulate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sear the pieces of meat until they get nice and golden brown on all sides. Remove to a plate (you might have to work in several batches and add fat as needed to prevent the bottom of the saucepan from drying out).

  • Once all the pieces of meat have been browned and removed to a plate, lower the heat to medium, add the onions, celery and garlic and cook until fragrant and slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes.

  • Add the meat back, throw the tomatoes in (fresh or canned), as well as the water, seasoning and bay leaves; stir well and bring to a simmer.

  • Lower the heat and allow the sauce to simmer, partly covered, for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning as needed.

  • When your sauce is ready to serve, place the spiralized rutabaga in a steaming basket, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and steam over boiling water for 3-5 minutes, until “al dente”. Alternatively, you can cook them briefly in a little bit of salted boiling water. I’m pretty sure that the microwave would work perfectly fine, too.

  • Ladle sauce generously over the cooked “pasta” and serve piping hot.

  • This sauce tastes even better the next day, or even the day after, so don’t hesitate to make it ahead of time. It will also freeze very well, so why not make a double batch and save some for later?

If you’ve tried this recipe, please take a minute to rate the recipe and let me know how things went for you in the comments below. It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you!

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