Summer sauce recipe provides heat in chilly winter months

“By all these lovely tokens September Days are here, With summer’s best of weather, And autumn’s best of cheer.” — Helen Hunt Jackson

September is summer’s last hurrah! Filled with brilliant blue skies and plenty of warm sunshine, this is a month when the world truly shines with pleasure. There is still time for fresh tomato sandwiches, succulent corn on the cob and plenty of crisp cucumbers sprinkled with vinegar and black pepper.

So long as there are zucchini, string beans and eggplant, peaches, fresh herbs, and hot and sweet peppers summer continues to sing. With the addition of apples, pumpkins, hard squashes, carrots, beets, garlic, kale and onions, the farm market is a treasure trove of natural, nutritious ingredients.

When the days of September turn cooler, ovens turn back on. In my own kitchen, delectable loaves of zucchini bread will be made, for freezing and for sharing. My freezer will also be graced with luscious eggplant dishes such as rollatini or parmesan. Dinners will include squashes stuffed with late summer tomatoes, plenty of fresh herbs and cheese. I will also cook down many pounds of tomatoes for marinara sauce to brighten up winter meals.

Preserving the last hurrah of summer will be much appreciated when chillier days set in. Strip sweet corn off the cob and place in freezer bags. These precious kernels will be an excellent addition to cornbread, waffles, enchiladas, chili, soups or chowder.

Peppers can be roasted in the oven or grilled for a smoky layer of flavor. Continually turn peppers until they are well blackened on all sides. Place the charred peppers in a paper bag and let steam for at least 30 minutes. When cooled, rub off the skins, slice into strips and remove the stem and seeds. You can then place them in freezer containers, add peeled garlic cloves, fresh basil, oregano, thyme and parsley and cover with olive oil. Let this mixture infuse for the day on your counter, then store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for later use. The rich flavor of roasted peppers is superb on an antipasto platter, on a cheese board, blended into dips or soups, or layered into a sandwich.

Eating plenty of late summer produce may help strengthen the immune system, while soothing the effects of summer sun damaged skin. Feeding the body with these glorious life sustaining foods is truly something to celebrate.

Give summer one last hurrah as you prepare your delicious life!

Never Ending Summer Marinara Sauce

Makes about 8-9 cups

10 pounds fresh summer tomatoes (any variety you love)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

5-6 large cloves fresh farm market garlic, very thinly sliced

1 small hot cherry pepper (seeds removed, minced, optional)

1/2 cup torn basil leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh oregano

2 sprigs fresh parsley

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Peel tomatoes by slicing an x in the bottom of each tomato. Lower tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and blanch for 10-15 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove tomatoes to a bowl filled with ice water. Let tomatoes cool. Peels should easily slip off. Remove cores and gently squeeze out seeds.

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook until just golden. Add tomatoes and cherry pepper, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Add thyme and oregano. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until tomatoes are quite soft and mixture is slightly thickened. Let cool completely. Eat right away or freeze for up to three months.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.