My Own Cherokee Purple Tomato & Red Onion Marinara Sauce Recipe

 Yesterday's yield from the garden: Cherokee Purple & Beefsteak

This has been our first and a most extraordinary year for our organic backyard and deck tomatoes despite being in a drought. Wayne watered and tended to them every single morning so that certainly helped! Besides enjoying sliced tomatoes as is, maybe with cheese or in an omelette, tomato and mayo sandwiches, sliced tomatoes drizzled with vinegar or chopped up with our garden cukes, I've been mastering homemade marinara sauce. Contained within that sauce is a secret and scandalous ingredient I will reveal in my recipe!

Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato & Red Onion Marinara Recipe

16 cups of chopped Cherokee Purple (or beefsteak which I've used in the past, or a mix of both which is doubly delicious!) tomatoes
2 cups chopped red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp or to taste pink salt

The secret ingredient? The skins! Leave on the skins! Most everyone and recipe will tell you to remove the skins. That's crazy talk! Once they are cooked they break down and you won't even know they are there! More importantly, your body will appreciate it. From WebMD:

Tomato peels contribute a high concentration of the carotenoids found in tomatoes. The amount of carotenoids absorbed by human intestinal cells was much greater with tomato paste enriched with tomato peels compared to tomato paste without peels, according to a study from Marseille, France. The tomato skin also holds most of the flavonols (another family of phytochemicals that includes quercetin and kaempferol) as well. So to maximize the health propertiesof tomatoes, don't peel them if you can help it!

Optional: 1 tbsp basil, 1 tbsp oregano, garlic to taste. I've used this marinara as a base for soups and chili, not just a spaghetti sauce, so sometimes I leave out the added traditional Italian additions.

Place the chopped tomatoes in a large sauce pot on the stove top. I used a 6 quart pot. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a slow boil.

While waiting for the tomatoes to start bubbling, sautee the onions on medium in the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add them to the tomatoes, stir, and bring back to a slow boil. Once it starts to bubble reduce the heat to medium low, or hot enough to simmer for two hours uncovered. Stir frequently, and for me that means every five minutes. This is good exercise! It'll keep you from sitting too long.

It should look like a really awesome tomato onion stew. In fact you could even stop here, add some peppers, chicken or meat, cooked beans, cumin, paprika and hot pepper and you've got chili!

This is what the sauce looks like after simmering and stirring for two hours. Next, with a soup ladle, transfer the sauce into a blender and fill it about halfway. Cover securely, then press the pulse button for only one second! Then wait a few seconds, pulse again for one second. Repeat for a total of four one second pulses. The goal is to blend and chop the sauce but not turn it into a puree.

Next, transfer the sauce into Mason jar. I place mine in the sink in case of splatter.

Let the sauce cool before refrigerating. My recipe produces about ten cups of delicious, wholesome and healthy marinara sauce with 110 calories per cup.

Shown with the remaining non-heirloom tomatoes from the first pic.

The half-gallon Mason jars are great because you can place them in the fridge and pour out the sauce as needed all week. This time around I let it cool and then placed the sauce in two freezer-safe BPA free containers so that Wayne and I will enjoy our summer bounty sometime this late fall or early winter!


  1. beautiful pictures and the recipe sounds delicious!

    1. Thank you, Andrea! I cooked macaroni in leftover beef stock from a pot roast, then baked it in a casserole dish with this sauce and Parmesan on top. It was wonderful! Hope you are well! :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! I just made *another* pot of sauce only this one with the beefsteak tomatoes. It's very saucy around here! :P

    2. (I also added the five tomatoes I picked this a.m. I'm hoping we won't have a frost for a long time!!)

  3. Oh- I really like your new banner photo. Just lovely.
    I am well, thank you. We closed on a semi-vintage townhouse (circa 1980, 1000sq feet very cozy) today and we're ramping up to move in next week. I hope to be able to catch up on your last few articles once the move is complete. Also hope you are enjoying autumn :)

    1. Thanks for the update, Andrea! I am so happy for you both and your two littles! It's now YOUR semi-vintage townhouse which is the best part. My house is 1200 sq ft not including the sunroom which is unfinished, so I think cozy is just perfect. I am loving the cooler temps, thank you. Looking forward to seeing you back here, HOMEOWNER! :) Hope the move is smooth!

  4. We were able to move in a few days earlier than expected!! Our casita is feeling like home already- boxes are all unpacked as of yesterday afternoon and taken to recycle today- we have the washer and dryer being delivered Wednesday, as well as a mid-century reproduction bedroom set- it was a bargain find!! I will as R to post something to instagram once we have our "new" bedroom set up so you can follow along with our progress. Or do you have an email address you don't mind sharing with me (?) and I'll send along some house photos. So glad to have a few moments to catch up on your posts!! I want some vintage canning jars for my bone broth IMMEDIATELY :)

    1. How exciting!! Yes, averyl at hotmail dot com!

      Re vintage canning jars, they actually are not recommended for canning: National Center for Home Food Preservation

      BUT they are perfect for storing dried beans, pasta, flour, etc! I also am using one in my office as a small vase. One can't have too many! :)

    2. Buuuuuut.....I did see a new line of antiqued colored canning jars from Ball at Target. I think they are doing purple and aqua.

    3. Oh yes. I have those, too! They also sell them on Amazon but they kept getting damaged in shipping.

    4. well... it looks like I'll just "have" to go to Target :)


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