Saturday, September 23, 2017

Basic Tomato Sauce

If you grow your own tomatoes, you probably have more ripe tomatoes than you can eat at this point in the season.  This is when I start making pasta sauce, to freeze for the winter.  I prefer a basic sauce that I can flavor later, with basil and garlic or chili powder, depending on what I'm going to make for dinner.

Before you can make sauce you need to remove the skins from your tomatoes.  Don't skip this step, even if you have a high speed blender, I've tried it and you'll be sorry.

Smooth, round tomatoes work best for this, because it can be difficult to get the skin out of all those nooks and crannies. Save those tomatoes for eating fresh.  

You remove the skins by dipping the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds (yes, only 30 seconds) and then putting them in ice water for another minute.  The skins will slide right off.  It's best to have everything ready before you start.

A slotted spoon is also very helpful.

After you've removed the skins, remove the stem and dice the tomatoes.  You're going to need 4 cups of diced tomatoes which is about 8-10 tomatoes, depending on their size.

The recipe that I use is a variation of cookbook author, Marcella Hazan's, tomato sauce.  It's a very simple recipe of tomatoes, onion, butter and salt.  Marcella's recipe calls for canned San Marzano tomatoes, but I prefer fresh vine ripened ones.  There is also the issue of the plastic lining in the cans, most are not BPA free.

The original recipe has you cut an onion in half and cook the halves in the tomatoes, discarding them at the end.  I finely diced the onion and saute it in olive oil first, before adding the tomatoes.

Marcella's recipe also calls for 5 tablespoons of butter.  I replaced that with a vegan butter.  The butter gives the sauce a very silky texture.  I like this brand because it tastes most like real butter.

I like to freeze the sauce, after it has throughly cooled, in canning jars, but you could process it in a water bath.  If you are freezing it, don't fill the jars to the very top, leave a few inches for the sauce to expand when it freezes.  

Basic Tomato Sauce
Makes 1 pint - Use organic ingredients whenever possible

4 cups diced tomatoes (8-10 tomatoes depending on size)
1 small yellow onion
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons vegan butter (I use Miyoko's)
1/4-1/2 teaspoons salt

Remove the skins from the tomatoes as directed above.
Remove the stems and dice the tomatoes.
Peel and finely dice the onion.
Warm the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat
(enameled cast iron is best)
Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often.
When onions are golden and starting to brown, add the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer for 50 minutes over a medium heat, stirring every 10 minutes or so.  
You can mash the tomatoes with a potato masher, to help them break down.
Turn the heat down to low for the last 10 minutes so you don't burn the sauce.

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