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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Market on the Move & Oven-to-Freezer Tomato Sauce

A couple weeks back I was on my way to the salon to visit my favorite esthetician when I noticed a busy farmer's market taking place at the nearby Baptist church.  Now imagine the amount of people at a Baptist church on Easter Sunday...and multiply that by 2; that was the number of people at this farmer's market.  The place was hoppin'.  But unlike a farmers market, this event had lines of people, all waiting to get their chance to walk from one tent to the next to get their veggies; and when they did get through the row of tents, folks were carrying away literal boxes of fruits and veggies.  I was intrigued, but quickly forgot all about it an hour later when I was pulling out of the salon parking lot.  It wasn't until I happened to read the newspaper yesterday that I came across a posting of addresses for the next "Market on the Move".  One click led to the next and I was on a non-profit website reading all about a weekly event that travels to parking lots all over town.  Turns out the Baptist church was hosting a M.o.t.M. event that Saturday, and the line wrapped around the building because a $10 donation got patrons up to 60 pounds of veggies and fruits!  How can they offer it so cheaply?  Well most of the veggies are perfectly good, but after inspection at sorting facilities, they've been set aside because of visual appearance (awkwardly shaped, variation in color, too big, too small...etc).  Some of the veggies are what would be considered "last chance" produce--they're so ripe that grocery stores can't put them on the shelves and get them sold fast enough.  Market on the Move's solution brings produce to local Arizona communities at a fraction of grocery store prices, and in the process prevents actual tons of perfectly good food from spoiling and going into landfills.  Not to mention, acquiring so much produce means you can pass on the freshness to friends, family, and those in need. 
Long story short, this is a fantastic program.  I was so excited upon reading about it that I was up and out the door bright and early today, eager to experience my first Market on the Move event.  Here's what my $10 donation got me and my hunnie:
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 12 zuccini squash
  • 18 cucumbers
  • 8 green bell peppers
  • 9 pasillo peppers
  • 23 roma tomatos
This didn't even amount to the 60 pound maximum, but I didn't want to get greedy.  I did some rough calculations and this would have cost me about $20 at the local grocery store.  Upon coming home, I split up my goodies into a pile to be rinsed and refrigerated and a pile to be preserved.  Not feeling confident enough to can tomatoes (urgh...botulism), I decided to go the freezer route.  I adapted this recipe from Foodperson.com for tomato sauce that you goes from oven to freezer (so you can avoid the canning process altogether).   Now I am anxiously awaiting the chance to make pasta for my hunnie...he humors me enough to get almost as excited as I do about fresh, local, and truly homemade food.

Oven-to-Freezer Tomato Sauce

11 large roma tomatoes (yields about 5 cups of tomato sauce)
1 medium red onion
6-8 garlic cloves
Ground black pepper
Olive oil
Set oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  Wash and trim tomatoes of anything you wouldn’t want to eat, such as stem or scars. Cut tomato in half and then into fourths (thirds for smaller tomatoes). Lay out tomatoes in large pans with a 1" lip. Tomatoes don’t have to be in a single layer, but don’t mound above the height of the pan’s lip.  Peel garlic cloves, cut onion into large cubes, and sprinkle over tomatos. Generously sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast about 2 hours, or until the tomatoes have cooked down*. 

Let cool, then puree tomato mixture with blender or food processor.  Transfer to freezer bags, lie them flat (for better storage) in the freezer, and when you're ready for homemade tomato sauce, let the bag defrost and then reheat in a saucepan.

*I slightly overcooked mine so the veggies would have a little char to them Pin It

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