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Tomatoes anyone?

August 21, 2011

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‘Tis the season for tomatoes! I have wonderful neighbors and family, who have been sending bag after bag of vine-ripened tomatoes…not to mention our plants in the small raised beds that my sons and I grow. I cannot bear the thought of them going to waste, and I am not versed in canning (yet!), so I decided to cook up some homemade tomato sauce. If you have never eaten anything but store-bought tomatoes, I pity you. They can’t hold a candle to warm, red tomatoes fresh from the vine. Actually they kind of taste like candle wax in comparison. Ok, I digress…Where was I? I just received a new kitchen tool from Granny…

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Ok, we are not going to argue over nomenclature here. I have researched it, and it is known by no fewer than five or six names…sieve, strainer, chinois, china hat….seriously. I live in Kentucky, and we are going to call it a strainer like Granny does. Even though chinois sounds really fancy. Obviously there are cooking purists out there who care about the the size of the holes or the presence of mesh. I don’t care what it’s called, as long as it gets the undesired crap out of my sauces! Granny used it mostly for tomato juice and grape juice.

Now for the roasted tomato sauce. I am really lazy when it comes to tomatoes. I don’t have the time or desire to blanch and peel all those ‘maters. You go right ahead Martha. I simply quartered mine and threw in a little olive oil. I then added onions, peppers, and celery. Basically whatever was in the fridge that looked like a vegetable. Season with some salt and pepper (and garlic if you have it, but I was out…flunked Italian today), and then add fresh basil, rosemary, or other herbs. Conner was mad that I picked HIS basil without permission! Roast this mixture in a large Dutch oven with the lid off at 400 degrees, stirring occasionally. It will take about 45 minutes to get them softened and juicy. I love how the roasting gives them that slightly smoky, charred edge. It adds another element of flavor to the sauce. I had a great shot of this, but I think the iPad ate it when I uploaded. Also my chinois action shot! Bummer! Anyway…

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Be careful when you remove it from the oven. That hot juice is deadly! If you are simply wanting tomato juice, this would be the time to strain it. I put some in a jar to store in the refrigerator for soups.

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I wanted a thicker pasta sauce, so I used my immersion blender to puree the sauce. I think I need to start wearing safety goggles when I use that thing! Tomato juice everywhere. Don’t wear your Sunday best when working with tomatoes! I then used the strainer ( chinois?) to push through all of the good stuff. Seeds and skins stay behind. I then returned the sauce to the stove to simmer a while and reduce. I added a little sugar, since my family is used to a sweeter sauce.

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One and a half hours of slow simmering later and voila’…

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Fresh, thick tomato sauce. This sauce can be refrigerated for a week or frozen in freezer bags or containers for up to six months. My roasted sauce may not hold up in Italy, but it was good enough for lunch around here!

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