Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Freezer cooking - pasta/tomato sauce

Like I mentioned earlier, I've been doing lots of freezer cooking lately. In fact, I think I am kind of addicted to it. I love how easy it is to just pull out something from the freezer and cook from frozen, especially on days when we were busy with other things, not that cooking is difficult, I love cooking but there are days when I am just to tired to do so. Freezer cooking is very convenient, at least to me, as I am currently in my third trimester of pregnancy. I also plan to have more meals in the freezer before I deliver my number four, so that it won't be a hassle thinking of what to cook or what to eat after I've delivered.

I made about 3 kilograms of pasta sauce last Sunday to use for lasagnes and to make spaghetti bolognese. I freeze about half of them in 400 grams pack, and use the remaining to cook with ground beef to make lasagnes.

Frozen pasta sauce
I love the fact that by making my own sauce, I can hide vegetables in the sauce without my kids knowing. My eldest have started to consume some type of vegetables, but my second and third child refuse most kind of vegetables. I added in carrots, celery, capsicum and mushrooms to the tomato sauce and processes them in a food processor, so that all the vegetables will be well blended with the pasta sauce.

Here's how I made my pasta sauce:

Lots of fresh tomatoes (I used about 2.5 kilograms)
Garlic (about a bulb or so)
Onions (about 2 to 3 big onions)
Capsicum (I used green capsicum because that is what I have at home)
Button mushrooms (about 200 to 250 grams)
Carrots (I used about 4)
Tomato puree ( I used the 430 grams pack)
Oil (to saute the onions and to coat the tomatoes and garlic before roasting)
Bay leaves
Dried thyme (you can use italian seasoning or oregano or rosemary etc)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the tomatoes and peel the garlic. Spread them on a baking tray and coat lightly with oil. Bake in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for about 45 minutes to an hour. Once baked, you can choose to discard the skin and seeds of the tomatoes (I just don't bother and proceed to the next step). Process the roasted tomatoes and garlic in a food processor until fine.

In a big pot, heat the oil and saute the onions. Add in the chopped celery, capsicum, mushrooms and carrots and cook on low heat for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then add in the processed roasted tomatoes and garlic mixture. Let it simmer and add in tomato puree, bay leaves and herbs. Cook on low heat for about an hour until the water had reduced. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Once  cooled, process again in a food processor until fine. At this point, you can choose to use the sauce, refrigerate if you plan to use it in a day or two or freeze them for future use. I used about half to make lasagnes and freeze another half in 400 grams packs (of course this will depend on how much pasta sauce you need per serving). To freeze, pour the right amount to a freezer bag (I used Ikea zip lock plastic bag as I don't have any freezer bag available) and lay flat in freezer to freeze.

*Note: I didn't write in the exact amount of vegetables/ingredients used as you may want to adjust the amount of ingredients based on your preference. You can also add in any other extra ingredients that you deemed appropriate, maybe sweet basil or you can remove some from my ingredients list if you don't like the flavor of certain ingredients. Most recipes will discard the tomato seeds as the seeds makes the sauce a bit bitter, but I proceeded with the seeds in as I am okay with the taste.

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