Category Archives: sauce

Flashback Recipe: Simple but Delicious Carrot-Beet Marinara Sauce

This is from one of my 2016 cooking demos remains a favorite way of mine to get a good dose of beets and carrots or a go-to when I am cooking for someone who does not eat tomatoes. Or if I don’t have good tomatoes – think mid-winter for that situation! Based on a recipe by macrobiotic chef and author Kristina Turner, you will find a link to her cookbook, and to the page with her original recipe, as well as the version I put together in an hour at the market kitchen tent in October 2016 by Clicking HERE.

Cooking Demo Recipe by Wendy Dennis, also author of

Cherry Tomato and Garlic Scape Pasta Sauce

The ingredients except for the cheese!

Intro Note: I am so happy to be back doing cooking demos for our Wakefield Farmers Market, but so sad that, for safety reasons, I can’t do them in person at the market. But, you will find new recipes here each week based on what will be available the next market day. And, NEW! I will be videoing the demos in my home kitchen and posting them on my Culinary Q YouTube cooking channel that I just started during these past few months of Covid-19 staying safe at home time. 🙂 Please consider subscribing! Once I get 100 subscribers, I can get a YouTube URL with culinaryq in it. Thanks!

Here is a link to this week’s video: Apologies for the exhaust fan being on so loud during part of it!

And now, here is the recipe, followed by notes and the story behind it. One quick note: I didn’t put the word “spicy” in the title because, if you don’t like spicy, you may not have checked this out. But if you prefer mild, just leave the red pepper flakes out and, if desired, add other seasoning that appeal to you. in fact, I was wary of the original recipe calling for 2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes, which would translate to 1 tablespoon for the size of my recipe, below. You will see that I reduced the amount to 1 teaspoon and I am glad I did! It has a nice kick without overwhelming.

Spicy Cherry Tomato and Garlic Scape Pasta Sauce

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup chopped/diced garlic scapes (4-5 whole)

garlic scapes in their natural farmers market habitat

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 pound cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/8 – 1/4 tsp of Anchovy paste

8-10 fresh basil leaves, torn

6 oz pasta of choice

salt/pepper to taste

Pecorino Romano or other cheese, grated

Put a quart of water on to boil to cook the pasta while sauce simmers. Heat the olive oil in a 10″ saute or 12″ frying pan (or thereabouts) to medium heat and add the chopped garlic scapes and red pepper flakes. Sauté 5-7 minutes. Add the sliced cherry tomatoes and anchovy paste to the pan and sauté on medium high for several minutes and then lower heat. Add the torn basil leaves and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and saucy. Add a few pinches of salt during the simmer process to bring out the liquid from the tomatoes.*

While the tomatoes are simmering, bring the pasta water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta as directed on package, ans strain.

Once both the pasta and sauce are done, add the pasta to the sauce, mix well, bring up heat a bit if needed for serving, and top with grated cheese to taste. Makes 4-6 side servings.

I went to Farmer Dave’s Barn Market in Dracut the other day to ask Farmer Jane (my demo contact) for ideas as to what I should feature in this week’s demo because I wanted to make sure whatever I used would be available on June 20. Given the season (and given that everyone knows what to do with strawberries, which are IN, YAY!) I went with cherry tomatoes from Farmer Dave’s greenhouses and garlic scapes from their fields. To order, go HERE and select Wakefield Farmers Market.

Farmer Dave’s Barn Market. Just up the road a bit in Dracut MA!

Next I search around and found THIS RECIPE from Norman’s Farm Market in Maryland that totally fit the bill as a foundation for my version. I toned down the amount of red pepper flakes, guessed at the amount of garlic scapes, and added some fresh basil.

Also, I grated some of West River Creamery‘s Cambridge English Cheddar (to order, click HERE) instead of a hard cheese more typically used with a tomato sauce, and it worked wonderfully to pull together the flavor and texture of the dish. The original recipe had cheese as an optional ingredient. I think cheese really added to it. But it’s up to you.

While I make sure to keep all my live cooking demos at the market vegan, and will do my best to provide info for vegan substitutes for dishes I create this season that contain animal products, I will be taking advantage of this new venue to also feature products from our fish monger and our meat and dairy farmers. Plus, Whatever I make at home will be on our dinner table, so I need to make sure Steve is going to like it. 🙂

You can also use regular garlic and/or onions instead of garlic scapes, but this time of year, I recommend taking advantage of this funny looking but tasty spring favorite!

Done. with a garlicky zing and a red pepper kick.

* For the science behind salt and tomatoes, see

To pre-order for the June 20 market day, click HERE.

UPDATE: As we had the leftovers for lunch, my husband Steve commented: I’d be surprised if people did not like this.” There, and from a man who typically does like things mixed up. 🙂

Tomato Sauce with Thai Basil (or regular Basil): Quick, Thick, and Easy!

the fresh ingredients.
The ingredients

WOW, this recipe sure is a winner! I was told by one shopper that I should mass produce and sell it. It really is that good. And you can make it, too, in under an hour.

The secret is twofold. First, straining after a short cooking time, cooking just the liquid down separately and then adding the reserved pulp back in means intense flavor from the cooked down liquid and fresh flavor and texture from the tomatoes and other ingredients that don’w actually get cooked for all that long. Second, I really liked the addition of Thai basil to this simple recipe. You can’t really taste the anise/fennel flavor of the Thais basil but it lends something special to the dish. Although, you could certainly make a fabulous sauce using all regular basil, with our without additional fresh herbs of your choice. And, don’t take the amounts in the recipe as written in stone. Pinch and handful measurements will work fine.

It is a great way to make sauce when you don’t have a lot of time. It is also a great way to use up tomatoes in this season of abundance. This recipe is perfect for freezing, too. Here is the recipe:

The first simmer

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 smallish onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped or torn fresh Thai basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
1/8 cup chopped or torn fresh parsley
5 lbs slicing tomatoes
5-6 turns of the black pepper mill, to taste
1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Slice the tomatoes in half, removing core, and grate into a large bowl, sliced side on the biggest hole side of the grater. Discard skins.
Heat olive oil, add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

The liquid just about cooked down. I added some extra Thai basil leaves to the liquid to infuse a bit more flavor.

Strain mixture through a mesh strainer, in batches as need to get as much liquid out as possible. Reserve the pulp and pour the liquid back into the pan and simmer until reduced until the liquid is thick enough to stay apart so you can see the pan for a few moments after running a spoon along the bottom.

Thick sauce! So good!

Add the pulp back and heat through. That’s it! Make a big batch and freeze some.

No Cook Tomato Sauce / Bruschetta Spread

It was a muggy day and the weather was iffy, so I went for a simple concoction, albeit I did toss my intentions to go electricity-free and used a food processor instead of dicing and mashing to make a thick tomato sauce that could double as a spread for bruschetta.

I got both big tomatoes and fresh basil from Kelly’s Farm and cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic, red scallions, and parsley from Farmer Dave’s, using only olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste from my “bag of tricks” of pantry items.

I was basing the recipe on one I had seen asking of 2 and 1/4 lb tomatoes, and, between two big tomatoes and a pint of cherries, I think I used about that. And, I used a bit more than a tablespoon of chopped garlic since it was so fresh and juicy that I felt the sauce could use extra. NOTE: when using very fresh, young garlic, the bulbs are not fully developed in to separate cloves, nor is the skin dry and easy to remove. But, sharp knife takes care of that! And oh, it tastes so good. I ate a clove raw.

The secret ingredient

The original recipe did not call for red scallions, but they were so pretty that I just had to grab a bunch, and I think they added that “special something/secret ingredient” flavor and texture to the end product. As to parsley, no one had pre-cut available by the time I “shopped,” so I purchased a plant for my home from Farmer Dave’s and picked what I needed fresh from the plant.

Here’s basic the recipe:

  • 2 1/4 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon flat leave parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (typically two cloves) or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sliced (dice size) red scallion, red part only (optional)
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil

First, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and the larger tomatoes in quarters and squeeze out the seeds and as much pulp and juice as you can. (Because this sauce is not cooked down, it is crucial to remove as much liquid as possible from the tomatoes so you don’t end up with a soupy mess.)

Put all the tomato pieces in a food processor and process for 15 seconds or more to create a mealy texture and remove to a strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid. (don’t dump the liquid – it tastes great as a beverage!)

While the processed tomatoes are straining, remove all stems from the basil and parsley before measuring, with the leaves somewhere between loosely and tightly packed, chop your garlic and scallion, and get your olive oil ready to measure.

Ready the final step

Put all the veggies and the olive oil in the processor and process away for, perhaps another 10-15 seconds. It really does not take long and you do want to leave some texture.

Then, add salt and pepper to taste. I used about 1/3 teaspoon of salt and that popped the flavor just right for me. But always stir well and taste and don’t be afraid to add just a bit more at a time until it reaches that “aha!” point.

And, that’s it! Mix it with hot or cooled cooked pasta and top with some Parmesan cheese, if desired, spread on a baguette slice and top with fresh mozzarella, or use as a base for pizza. To ramp things up, put it is a sauce pan to cook it down a bit and add several tablespoons of butter for a decadent but so worth it addition to anything calling for a rich tomato sauce.

Samples offered at the Market Kitchen Tent

While you are at it, take advantage of the summer bounty of freshly picked tomatoes from all our local farmers and make and freeze a few batches for a cold winter day.