Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fresh, Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce

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We've been blessed with a great abundance of tomatoes from our garden.  I was hoping we would end up with cherry tomatoes (my fave for their sweet flavor) but instead we have Roma tomatoes.  Not a bad thing of course, just not the ones I'd eat for a snack all by themselves. 
The other day I was chatting with my friend, who lived in Rome for 13 years, and she mentioned making a nice homemade sauce with all my tomatoes.  Hmmmm...haven't done that yet!  And, as a bonus, we got lucky and the local grocery store had some fresh pasta in stock.  Fresh sauce, fresh (well semi fresh) ravioli.  Perfect!
I Googled a bunch of recipe ideas for the sauce.  There are more ways to make tomato sauce than I would have guessed!  But, I wanted simple...pure.  I wanted the tomatoes to shine.  So, with a few ingredients and a bit of time...I ended up with a lovely sauce.  
Since then, I've made fresh sauce one other time...with the same wonderful results.  Keep the tomatoes coming! (side note:  if you ever pop into the store and find tomatoes on sale, but maybe they look like they're on their last them!  yep you read right.  Those overripe beauties will make you a beautiful sauce!  And save keep some money in your pocketbook!)

*important tip:  take the time to peel and seed the tomatoes.  Otherwise your sauce won't be nearly as good.  It's not hard and just takes a few extra minutes of your prep's worth it.  Trust me.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen:

Yield: About 4 cups sauce

4 pounds tomatoes (over ripe is okay!)
1/4 cup olive oil
Small onion
2 to 3 small cloves of garlic
1/2 medium carrot
1/2 stalk of celery
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus a few slivers to finish
Parmesan cheese (optional)

How to peel the tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanche the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds, then either rinse under cold water or in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes should now be easy. If they aren't coming off easily, just pop them back in the water for another few seconds. Discard the skins.

Seeding:  With my plum tomatoes, I halve each lengthwise. (If using beefsteak or another round variety, quarter them). Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer over a bowl and reserve the juices. Discard seeds.  Either coarsely chop you tomatoes on a cutting board or use a potato masher to do so in your pot, as they cook.

The vegetables: I chose to chop them all up fairly small.  You can also grate them if you want.

For the sauce: Heat olive oil in a large pot over meduim. Cook your onions, carrots, celery and garlic, if you’re using them, until they start to brown, about 15 minutes. This brings out a great flavor. Add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer, lowering the heat to medium-low to keep it at a gentle simmer.  Simmer your sauce, stirring occasionally. Anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.  (or longer if you have the time)
About 15 min before serving, add the basil.
If it's too thick, add some of your reserved juices.  If it's too lumpy you can use your immersion blender.  Add salt to taste and then finish with few more slivers of fresh basil.  We like to add some fresh grated parm on top too.  :)


Elpiniki said...

I love the simplicity of your dish! Sounds really tasty!

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