My husband’s grandfather is 85 years young. He helped harvest these beautiful tomatoes from his grandson’s garden, which is also that grandson’s first attempt at a garden. “A Gardener’s Born” should be the name for this year’s crop as he’s learned all about how to get the best yield from his “Papa” and I was fortunate to receive the bounty of this inherited wisdom. Tomatoes. A whole basket full.
At first I thought I would make pico de gallo, fresh tomato sauce, sliced tomatoes for sandwiches and maybe even a tomato pie, but upon further evaluation I determined it may just be best – and easiest – to make tomato sauce.
I gathered my grandmother’s instruction on how to make sauce, and several Google searches on my iPhone later, I compiled these into my first trial-and-error tomato sauce. No one told me to whip all of those tomatoes up in the blender but I did. It just seemed better, and faster, than going through the trouble of blanching, de-seeding and peeling the skin. The outcome tastes just like a fresh jar of marinara or Italian crushed tomatoes, and that’s fine with me.
Here’s what I used.
16 or so fresh from the garden small-to-medium tomatoes
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
3 handfuls (or tablespoons) of dried Italian seasoning
1 handful (or tablespoon) white sugar
1 hefty dash (or 1/4-1/3 cup) of red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
1/2 cup of fresh chicken broth (or you can use canned/boxed broth, any kind)
Shake enough salt and pepper over the top of the sauce to taste
Here’s what I did.
1. Wash tomatoes and core and chunk them to at least quarters for the largest ones.
2. Blend them up in the blender or food processor. (I only have a blender. It worked fine.)
3. In the meantime, in a large stockpot, saute garlic in oil until browned. Then add all the frothy, crushed tomatoes. Bring to boil, stirring.
4. Reduce heat to low and add seasonings. Cook for about 2 hours. Stir at least every half hour.
5. Add broth and wine and cook for another 2 hours, continuing to reduce. The sauce will thicken slightly.
6. Turn off heat and let sit until just about room temperature (or sooner if you’re in a hurry), and put in the fridge. I put half of mine in the fridge to use for the week and the other half I put in a large freezer bag and am allowing it to freeze flat for easier storage.
When you’re ready to serve, you can add some tomato paste, onions, more garlic and some meat if you’re looking for a heartier sauce. Add a dash of cinnamon if you’d like it to be sweeter – this is my grandmother’s trick! And, voila! It’s delish.
I roasted a spaghetti squash and plan to make Cheesy Tomato Spaghetti Squash for supper tomorrow night. Easy weeknight supper!
You can also use the sauce as a base for chilis, soups and baked pasta dishes. It’s wonderful to have that fresh-from-the-garden tomato taste all year round. Enjoy!