• 4 lbs. fresh tomatoes (I used more than one kind today - Hothouse and Roma)
  • 2 tablespoons Portuguese or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Pimento Moida or fresh red crushed pepper (you can also use 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes)
  • 1 to 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

The Food Network has teamed up with food and garden bloggers like me to host Summer Fest, an exciting season-long garden party! Each week during the summer months bloggers bring their dishes to the virtual table. Weekly recipes are inspired by local fresh fruits and vegetables. So far during Summer Fest 2012 we’ve shared with you our recipes for cucumbers, plums and summer squash … and the party has just begun! This week we are sharing our tips and recipes for a very versatile and healthy fruit — the tomato!

Last year during Summer Fest 2011, I had a great time contributing my recipes for Green Tomato Spice Cake with Brown Butter Icing  and Tomato Parmesan Biscuits. I created the green tomato cake for North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in preparation for our Farmer’s Market trip. After our trip, we came back to my kitchen to prepare some recipes together featuring local tomatoes.  This year, I am happy to share with you my recipe for a fast, fresh and delicious tomato sauce!

Tomatoes are not only delicious but good for you!

Slice open a tomato and you’ll notice the red veggie has multiple chambers that resemble the structure of a heart. Studies have found that because of the lycopene in tomatoes, there is a reduced risk for heart disease in men and women who eat them. If you mix them with a little fat, like olive oil or avocado, it will boost your body’s lycopene absorption nearly tenfold.


A question often asked of me is, “What was your favorite meal your Vavo (my grandmother) made for you?” Hands down it was her fresh tomato sauce and meatballs. Vavo didn’t like her sauce very thick and she often used fresh tomatoes particularly in the summer time.

Begin by coring each tomato and making a small X on the bottom of each tomato.
My son Alex and I enjoyed making this recipe together!

Place the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes or until the skin begins to curl up. This will make peeling very easy. Remove the tomatoes and place in an ice water bath.







Next peel the skins off and carefully squeeze out the seeds.

In a saute pan, begin softening (not browning) your onion and carrot in olive oil. I use extra-virgin olive oil when I do not have Portuguese olive oil. I just returned home from my hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts. I made sure to purchase more Portuguese olive oil. : – ) Next add your garlic cloves and cook only one minute.








Add your fresh tomatoes, red crushed pepper, bay leaves, basil and salt. Simmer over low heat for about thirty additional minutes or so. You can drizzle a little more olive oil in your sauce at the very end if you’d like.








I added meatballs to my sauce! We love meatballs! This fresh tomato sauce is delicious all by itself as well.

If you would like to add meatballs to your fresh tomato sauce simply combine the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl:

1 lb. lean ground beef

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup white bread soaked in a little milk

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon each garlic and onion powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes or 1 tablespoon fresh red crushed pepper

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

Form your mixture into meatballs and fry in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil until all sides are browned. (You can also bake in a 350 degree F oven until browned). Add the meatballs to your fresh tomato and simmer until meatballs are cooked throughout.

Boil up some of your favorite pasta and adorn it with your fresh sauce and meatballs!

Bom proveito! – means enjoy your food in Portuguese!

From our hearts to yours,

Elise and family

For other creative and delicious recipes be sure to visit the bloggers who participate in this season-long party! You can also join the conversation and share the love by tweeting about them on Twitter using the hashtag #summerfest, sharing the recipes on Facebook and of course pinning the recipes on Pinterest! To follow all of our seasonal recipes check out Food Network’s Let’s Get Seasonal Board on Pinterest!

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Napa Farmhouse 1885: Tomato Cobbler Anyone?
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What’s Gaby Cooking: Chicken Kebabs With Romesco Sauce
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Salmon Spaghetti With Plum Tomatoes and Avocado
Feed Me Phoebe: Roasted Fresh Tomato Puttanesca Sauce
Chez Us: Easy Tomato Tart
Made By Michelle: Tomato and Pesto Pizza
Ingredients, Inc.: Lighter Fried Green Tomatoes
Delicious Lean: Creamy Light Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomatoes
Daily*Dishin: Spicy Tomato-Tomatillo Chicken Tenders
From My Corner of Saratoga: Tomato Jam
Dishin & Dishes: Tomato Zucchini Frittata
And Love It Too: Roasted Garlic, Basil and Tomato Paleo Tart
Healthy Eats: The Fresh-for-Once Tomato
Sweet Life Bake: Pico de Gallo
Zaika Zabardast: Grilled Tofu and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sandwich
Thursday Night Dinner: Tomato and Watermelon Salad
Cooking Channel: How to Prepare Summer Tomatoes
FN Dish: Tomatoes Go Beyond Salads