PENINSULA KITCHEN: Seize the moment for heat-loving summer vegetables

FROM A NORTHWEST locavore’s perspective late August is the long-awaited time of year when we can finally access locally grown, vine-ripened tomatoes and peppers.

Marinara sauce is traditionally associated with the warm and dry climate of the Mediterranean, and for this one brief month every year, we have everything needed.

Special fresh taste

Of course, you can always whip up a tomato sauce using canned tomatoes and paste, but there is nothing like the taste of sauce made with fresh-from-the-field tomatoes.

If you can get your hands on a large quantity of tomatoes, make enough of this sauce to freeze for a winter treat.

And, if you are interested in going all out made from scratch, I’ve also included my go-to recipe for a yeasted pizza crust taken from our family’s battered copy of the 1978 edition of the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

Garden fresh marinara sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1-2 fresh peppers, sweet or mildly hot, chopped

½ onion, chopped

1 large stem of fresh herbs including oregano, basil, thyme or sage

2 pounds of fresh Roma tomatoes or another paste variety, coarsely chopped

Salt and red pepper to taste

Optional additions include: capers, olives, a splash of red wine, or additional summer veggies such as zucchini or eggplant

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet or pot.

Saute minced garlic, onion, peppers and the whole sprig of herbs.

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, adding salt if needed for flavor.

Remove the sprig of herbs before serving.

Use this sauce with pasta or pizza.

Pizza crush from the “Betty Crocker Cookbook” (1978)

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon honey or sugar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2½ cups wheat flour (1/3 whole wheat if desired)

1 teaspoon salt

Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet, optional

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and stir until combined.

Set aside for 5 minutes; it will foam up when it is ready.

Add 1½ cups of the flour with the salt and mix until it is smooth.

Continue adding the flour 1/4 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition.

When the dough becomes too stiff to stir, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth but still tacky.

This will take 3-5 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining olive oil.

Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil.

Cover with a moist towel and set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake your pizza, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees or higher if possible.

Take the dough out of the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 1-2 minutes.

With a rolling pin or with your hands, flatten the dough to your desired shape and thickness.

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the dough leaving a ½-inch edge all around.

Be creative with your toppings — the list is endless.

Here is a list of some locally grown things you can put on a pizza:

Veggies: local greens such as collards, chard, beet greens or kale. Chop greens into a bowl, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper before adding to the pizza.

Meats: any pre-cooked meat will work, but sausage is probably the most perfect of our local options.

Cheese: shredded mozzarella and parmesan are the standards. Or try something unusual — such as crème fraiche, or goat cheese or feta.

Bake your pizza on a metal pan or stone for 12-17 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Let pizza cool for a few minutes before serving, so that it’s a little easier to slice.

________

Betsy Wharton is the proprietor of the Clallam Canning Co., a local purveyor of artisan pickles and other farm to jar goods. You can find her and her products at the Sprouting Hope Greenhouse at 826 E. First St. in Port Angeles. Or contact her at betsy@clallam canningcompany.com.

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