It seemed very fitting to spend my labor day making “sauce” for the freezer out of the abundance of tomatoes from the garden this year. Although my plants caught a tomato blight and leaves started turning yellow and spotty in August; I still managed to reap pounds of tomatoes from my 12 plants.
Mostly heirloom varieties (Brandywine, Mortgage Lifters) but a couple common varieties too. (Early Girl, Best Boy)
A lot of folks might swear by the more popular “Roma” variety for their sauce-making. They are prized for the large amount of flesh versus juice, resulting in a thick, rich sauce. But I personally think any tomato is a great tomato. And you can read about my “tomato problem” here. It is all about how much love you put into it.
My recipe is different every time and I don’t measure, but it always includes some basics….
Tomatoes, onion, garlic, a grated carrot or two for extra sweetness and this time I included some mini sweet bell peppers that I happened to have on hand. Also always included but not seen here is: red chili flakes, a small can of tomato paste, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a parm rind and herbs: oregano, basil and marjoram. Fresh is best but dried works great too! (No the bags of apples and pears were not included – they just made a good backdrop for the photo!)
First the labor…
Some folks blanch/peel the tomatoes first – ummm… too much work for me. Some strain out the seeds – do it if you want. I don’t mind all that extra fiber and I “whiz” it all up at the end anyway. TIP: Drain the scraps as you cut and use the extra “tomato water” in the sauce – no waste!)
Next comes the love….
This is the onions, garlic and finely grated carrots slowly softening in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Go low and slow; careful not to put too much color on the garlic. Add in your finely diced sweet bell pepper and saute some more. (This gives it a little undertone of “cacciatore.”) Add in the chili flakes and the tomato paste and let that toast a bit too. Than add a few generous dashes of Worcestershire sauce (my secret weapon) and a little water to de-glaze the pan. Than you are ready for all those tomatoes!
Cook it slowly for several hours, with a leftover Parmesan cheese rind to add richness. Tasting and adjusting seasoning along the way. If using fresh herbs, I like to add in the last hour of simmer AFTER I have used my immersion blender to blend all but the parm rind up. That way the sauce and herbs keeps its “fresh” flavor. If I am using dried herbs I add them way back when I add the tomato paste and chili flakes to sort of “toast” them too.