Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rainbow Tomato Sauce

I had so many ripe tomatoes, and hadalready consigned so many overripe ones to the compost pile, that I was determined to make some tomato sauce today. None of my tomatoes are the traditional sauce type, typically Romas, which are meaty and less juicy than slicers, but I figured I could still make a passable sauce.

Here are maybe two-thirds of the tomatoes after being dunked in boiling water to loosen their skins.

When full, this bowl holds 24 cups. It got full. Here are most of the peeled and coarsely chopped tomatoes before going into the stock pot. It almost looks like a fruit salad. I really wasn't sure what color the sauce would end up being with so much yellow and some green tomato in the mix, though I knew it wasn't going to be a rich, dark red.

Here's a glimpse into the tall pot while the sauce was cooking; you can see that the sauce was a reddish orange with chunks of distinct red and yellow tomatoes and green and dark purple flecks of basil. I first sauteed a large yellow onion, finely chopped, and several cloves' worth of garlic paste in some olive oil. Then I added the tomatoes and several tablespoons of chopped basil (three kinds) and lemon thyme from my garden and some dried oregano, bay leaves, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Later I decided to add a small can of tomato paste to help it thicken up. The sauce simmered all afternoon, making Dave comment that the house smelled like his (Italian) Aunt Frances's house did in his youth -- high praise. I tried smashing all the chunks of tomato with my potato masher, but that wasn't as effective as I wanted it to be, so I later resorted to the blender to even out the texture somewhat. I pureed several batches of the sauce in the blender and returned them to the pot, thus making a thin but chunky sauce into a somewhat thicker and less chunky (but still kind of chunky) sauce. I was careful to search for and remove the large bay leaves before running the blender so shredded pieces of the tough but aromatic leaves wouldn't catch in anyone's throat.

Here was the result - more than a gallon of sauce to eat on pasta with meatballs tonight and to put away in the freezer for several more meals. Nice!

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RuthieJ said...

Oh Penny, that sauce looks delicious. I picked 20 lbs of just Romas yesterday and started a pot of sauce. But there are still lots more tomatoes out there -- salsa is next on my list.

Jim H. said...

Yummmm. My mom -- Maria Salvatrice Regina Vigneri -- spent many a September weekend making sauce from the big tomato patch out back. It froze well.

Her favorite tool was a Foley food mill through which she would pass the half-cooked tomatoes. The resulting consistency was smooth but not too smooth.

Her secret ingredient, which she claimed was kind of a sacrament in Sicily, was sugar. She also added (sometimes) fennel seed and just a few hot pepper flakes.

Ah, that smell...!

Mary S. said...

Looks delicious. Best tool ever for dealing with chunky foods you want to be smooth is an immersible blender. Just move it around the pot and it purees the sauce.

Penelope said...

Wow, Jim, what a beautiful name. It comes close to my favorite name of all time, Gabriela Mistral, whose real name I now see was Lucila de MarĂ­a del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga.

A food mill and/or an immersible blender are now on my wish lists; thanks for the advice, Jim and Mary.

Ruthie, good luck with your salsa!

Catalina said...

What beautiful tomatoes!
I've started making single color sauces - white, pink, yellow, orange, green and red.
I remove the core and blend the whole tomatoes until they are smooth.
Then I let them simmer for 10-14 hours.

Stephanie said...

Beautiful! This looks like the sauce I made last week.

dAwN said...

That looks delightfully yummy..I grow no tomatoes, obviously...and am very jealous!

Penelope said...

Catalina - I never would have thought of making different-colored sauces, but what a fun idea.

Stephanie - yes, it does! Loved your sandhill crane photos on your blog as well.

Dawn - I'm picturing an RV rooftop garden using one or more of those Earthboxes, and the plants well staked for moving days! What a sight that would be as you move on down the highway. You wouldn't mind climbing onto the roof to plant, weed, water and pick, would you?!