Tomato season is peaking! With bushels of juicy tomatoes dropping from the vine it is time to make all things tomato. Every summer I make at least one batch of sauce and freeze it to enjoy during the cold winter months. The recipe is simple and versatile depending on what herbs and seasonings you include. It’s vegetarian and vegan unless you serve it with meat or cheese. You can add sweet and/or hot peppers, any kind of onion or herbs. I like a little kick to my sauce, so today I threw in one red banana pepper. The recipe can be scaled up or down depending on how big of pot you want to make.
I’m not going to lie to you. Good things come to those who wait. This is an all-day project but worth the time and effort. You will have a lovely dinner and plenty of sauce to eat, freeze or can. Roasting the tomatoes and peppers is actually much easier than blanching and peeling them and adds a nice depth and richness to the flavor of the sauce.
• tomatoes (I used about 6 pounds)
• 2-3 large onions
• 1 head garlic (the whole bulb)
• 1 carrot
• 1 can (6 ounce) tomato paste
• fresh herbs (Several stems of basil, oregano)
• olive oil
• 1 T Italian seasoning
• 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
• 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste-I used black pepper but can sub any kind)
• 2 to 3 T sugar
• *pasta for serving (as pictured)
• *shredded Parmesan Cheese for serving
•* fresh herbs to garnish
Preheat oven to 450º
1. Coat 2 large sheet pans with olive oil
2. Wash, stem and core tomatoes, cut in half (If you don’t like seeds, seed them as well. I leave them in. I like a chunky sauce. You can also pass sauce through a sieve at the end if you prefer.)
3. Place tomato halves on sheet pan cut side down
4. Roast tomatoes until skins start to puff and blacken (about 15 minutes), remove from oven & cool
5. While tomatoes roast, coarsely chop onions, carrot and garlic
6. In large sauce pot, on medium heat, sweat onions, carrot and garlic until softened
7. When cool, with your hands, squeeze tomatoes out of skins into pot with onion mixture. They should pop right out. Pour any juice in the baking sheet into the pot. Stir to combine
8. Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, sugar and whole herb stems to pot, stir to combine
9. Simmer on low heat for 3-6 hours stirring occasionally
10. Taste the sauce as it cooks. If sauce seems to tart, add more sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. If it seems bland, add more seasonings or salt and pepper. Note, the flavors will intensify as sauce cooks down and color will darken, so don’t overdo it.
11. When finished, sauce can be eaten as is or pureed in a blender or food processor until smooth. If canning, follow basic canning instructions at this point and process. For freezing, cool sauce in a low flat pan, then portion and package in containers or freezer bags.
Serve as you would any tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce. Pair with good pasta with a lot of nooks and crannies to hold sauce. I used penne today. Save a cup of the cooking water for combing sauce, cheese and pasta. Cook pasta until “al dente”, which means still has a little chew to it, because it will continue to cook in hot tomato sauce and reserved cooking water. Drain the pasta. Combine pasta with a portion of sauce, a large handful of grated Parmesan (or cheese of your liking), a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of starchy cooking water. Stir gently to coat all the noodles. Spoon into serving bowls, top with more cheese and fresh torn herbs.
Photos and recipe by Stephanie Bishop
Stephanie Bishop is an award-winning floral designer, wedding and events planner, gardener, cook and author in Central Wisconsin. Follow her at Better Path Wisconsin, where she connects like-minded individuals about environmental, social and civil interests, and promotes green, healthy, sustainable living. View thousands of her food, floral and animal images on her Facebook page at Stephanie Bee and browse floral design ideas at Bishop Wedding & Floral Art. Read all of Stephanie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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