Monday, September 13, 2010

Fresh Tomato Sauce, Frozen

So it's the end of summer and you have a hoard of tomatoes you don't know what to do with? Dare you say you're tired of BLT's? Well then, it's time to make some sauce. Special sauce, that is, because it will be much tastier than anything you've bought in the jar.

Why fresh tomato sauce, frozen? Because one day in January or February, when it's colder than the glares from my 5th-grade teacher, I want to enjoy a little taste of summer.

There are thousands of ways to make tomato sauce. Some people will insist you use a food mill. Some will insist you use only roma tomatoes. If it's the dead of winter and you don't have fresh tomatoes available, you could even use good canned tomatoes. It is that versatile. If you are limited, you don't even need the mirepoix of veggies. Just tomatoes will do, although the flavor won't be as well-rounded.

Fresh Tomato Sauce, Frozen
about 4 C

4 lbs. tomatoes, fresh and local preferred
1/4 C EVOO
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium carrot, diced
1/2 stalk of celery, diced
1/4 ts chili flake
1 TB tomato paste
1/2 ts salt

Heirlooms from the CSA- ready for sauce

Peel the tomatoes- using a very sharp paring knife, make a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Drop into a large pot of boiling water for about 30-45s, then either cool in an ice bath or under cool running water. The skin should peel off easily.

These romas were for some salsa- another time when I like to remove the skins.

Core your tomatoes if necessary. If you're using large tomatoes, quarter them. If you're using smaller romas, slice them in half. Place a strainer or mesh over a bowl and squeeze out the seeds, saving the juice. Roughly chop the tomatoes in chunks.

In a medium pot or dutch oven, heat up the EVOO over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, chili flake and garlic, cook until lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and stir for 30 seconds. Add in the tomato chunks and reserved juice, reduce the heat to medium-low. Using a potato masher, break down the tomato to your desired consistency. I prefer just a slight chunkiness to remain. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a pinch of kosher salt to desired level. Serve immediately with some pasta, keep in the fridge for a few days, or freeze for up to 6 months or so.

I decided to try something new with this batch- Freezing some herbs just plucked out of the garden in the middle of the sauce. I don't know if I will need all that rosemary, oregano, and thyme in the dish, but it certainly won't hurt to have these fresh herbs available in mid-winter, right? Heeeeeel Naaaaw!

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