|Ripe summer tomatoes. Photo: The Ewan, Flickr.
When I was a kid, the end of the summer brought with it a painful, unpleasant tradition. Every August, when the farmers' market was filled with tomatoes, my parents would buy a few bushels, and the whole family would spend a couple of days blanching, peeling and processing the fruits. Every time, the process resulted in clothing and skin that reeked of tomatoes, fingers that stung and a freezer full of watery tomato sauce that we would defrost throughout the year.
As an adult, I have continued the tradition, although I make my sauce in the fall, when cooking pleasantly warms and perfumes the house, rather than turning it into a sweatbox. I also prefer using canned tomatoes, rather than fresh ones: In addition to sparing my fingers from burns, they produce a sauce that is richer, more flavorful and has a better texture than my parents' marinara. On the other hand, I still use my mom's recipe, which she learned from her Italian godmother, although I add a little bit of red wine vinegar, which gives the sauce more depth. Ultimately, it's a spicy, fennel-accented marinara that freezes well, tastes delicious and is inexpensive to make.
Get the recipe for all-purpose marinara after the jump.