Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Tomato Time!

Everyone, now is the time we long for all year. When summer produce is at its peak, and there's more on the table at the farm stand than we can bear to buy. Still, I hope you're all taking full advantage of it while it's here.

I'm hearing a lot about the high prices of heirloom varieties of tomatoes, but there's more than meets the eye to these price tags. You just have to put on your friendly face on and ask the farmer. Some times they show up with some second hand tomatoes that they're happy to unload for a fraction of the price.
Otherwise, try showing up at closing time to score some of the tomatoes that sat out all day. Believe me, they're still good, they just won't make another trip to the market. So farmer's are more than happy to bag and tag mature 'maters at a discount price.

I was able to get this ten pound box for just ten dollars!

Some have some funky looking blotches and spots,

But they're just as beautiful inside?

So I got a good deal on a bunch of tomatoes, now what?
The usual go-to. tomato sauce. It's a great all purpose sauce to have a around.

As usual I try to keep it super simple and approachable, but because of the volume it's a little bit of a process any way you swing it. (especially if you double or triple up on the recipe and can it). I don't remove the seeds and I only take off the skin whenever it slips off easily with out any blanching. Which is often enough with ripe tomatoes.
What's more, since everything gets processed on the back end, precise chopping and cutting isn't really mandatory. (though for the record, it does help in even cooking.) However, I do separate out the liquid partly through the cooking process to preserve the fresh flavor of the tomatoes.

5 lbs. Tomatoes, roughly chopped and skin removed where ever possible.
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 carrot, grated
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp chili flakes
1 bunch's worth of basil leaves, picked and cleaned well

1. Over medium heat, sweat the onions until slightly translucent. About 4-5 min.
2. Add in the carrot, garlic and chili flakes, cook for 3 more minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and red wine, bring to a simmer (just slight bubbling) and cook for about 20 minutes.
4. Now is the tricky part, strain the sauce into a bowl and return the liquid to the bowl. Continue to simmer until it's reduced by half. This is most easily judged by looking side of the pan, usually a brown line will form were the liquid starts out.
5. While that's cookin', process the tomato solids with the basil leaves.
6. Once the liquid is reduced, return the pureed solids and your sauce is ready to consume.

If you make a lot of this sauce and want to can it (store it in sterilized shelf-stable jars) I recommend or for info on how to do s0.

mmmmm . . .


  1. For the 'newbie' in the kitchen - how do you 'sweat' the onions? -Diane in Texas

  2. I count my lucky stars everyday that I have a greenhouse stock FULL of tomato plants just waiting for me to pick them, eat them, make sauce with them.

    I seriously cannot eat store bought tomatoes anymore with their waxy, gross taste. Not even a tomato anymore. (farmer's market ones are beautiful)

  3. I'm new to this, also. I've never reduced the liquid and pureed and added the solids. Can't wait to try it. Love the site. Want to see some ads so I know you're makin money.

  4. I would love it if you could visit my farmers market in California. I hear we're going to be enjoying summer weather till Christmas, I'm thinking about planting more tomatoes. Gotta love global warming. Thanks for all the great information

  5. Diane from Texas, sweating just means to lettings the vegetables release some of their moisture and aroma and get soft. If you think about what happens to us when we sweat, the same concept applies to vegetables. You don't want to brown the onions, you want them to get soft and aromatic so all those flavors can combine with the other ingredients to make an amazing sauce.

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