Surely among the top ten slow foods is tomato sauce. The reward for preserving them in late summer will be the essence of luscious vine-ripened garden tomatoes mid-winter in a soup or marinara sauce, with an onion and sausage frittata or mushroom polenta. I’m a fool for tomatoes and should make myself a tomato cape, something to wear everywhere to signify my devotion.
Since our own backyard tomatoes are behind schedule I thought it would be a good idea to buy seconds from Billy and make a batch of sauce now and then again later this month when ours will finally, I hope, come on like gangbusters. Bob tracked down Billy at the Sunday Market and purchased a big box of seconds, 22# at $2.25 per pound. Since it reduced down to several quarts, this turned out to be some FABULOUS, but pricey sauce. No more than winter tomatoes though, and far superior.
We then rolled up our sleeves and made sauce. Rich and tomatoey, it will be delectable mid-winter. Here’s one way to *make a good sauce.
A Recipe for Tomato Sauce
You’ll need two cooking pots and two bowls, big ones. Amounts are ambiguous and, frankly, are meant to be. Use as many tomatoes as you have, as much garlic as you like or none at all. A lot of tomatoes will reduce dramatically during the cooking process.
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
In the kitchen sink, fill a bowl with ice water.
Peel and slice one or two heads of garlic. In another cooking pot, sauté the garlic in olive oil for half a minute, turn heat off and let sit. You’ll put peeled and quartered tomatoes into this pot a little later so make it a big one. Not necessary to quarter the tomatoes – skip this if you prefer. They’ll soften and fall apart anyway.
Blanch 8 or 10 tomatoes at a time in the pot of simmering water – leave them for one or two minutes until skins begin to loosen.
Remove them with a large slotted spoon/spatula and place directly into the pan of ice water.
Put more tomatoes into pot and while they’re blanching pull the skins off the others.
Large tomatoes sometimes have a hard core – remove that.
Place peeled and quartered tomatoes into the sauce pot with the cooked garlic, turn on the heat and begin to cook. Add other tomatoes as soon as they’re peeled.
Tomatoes will reduce in quantity as they cook so add salt to taste later on.
Smash tomatoes from time to time or use an immersion blender; you could also use a food processor after they’ve cooled, but watch out. Too much blending reduces texture and diminishes bright color. I prefer to use a potato masher or immersion blender which I purchased last year and love.
Stirring occasionally, allow tomatoes to simmer for several hours until they’ve reduced and thickened to your own liking. The bottom line is to make the sauce of a consistency that will serve your own culinary purposes later on.
Salt to taste near end of cooking time.
I let the sauce cool and then pour into quart-size freezer containers. Store in the freezer, until say November if you can wait that long, and have yourself a taste of summer. Or, process in glass jars, which I’ll do with my next batch. Their presence in the pantry is comforting, so red and regal, ready to add culinary distinction to whatever recipe needs a tomato.
Later in the month our tomatoes did finally come on like gangbusters and we preserved lots of them.
*Since this was originally posted, three years ago now, I’ve made most of my tomato sauce via roasting, blending, then freezing or canning. Easier and just as delicious.