Monday, July 4, 2011

(Almost) Completely Homegrown Tomato Sauce

With the half-dozen tomatoes that lined up on the kitchen counter a couple of days ago sufficiently ripened, I decided to make my first batch of tomato sauce. Tomatoes are a wonderful plant because they grow quickly and easily from seedlings and, if well cared for, produce a lot of tomatoes. Tomatoes are also great because there are many ways to preserve them for use during the winter months, when store-bought tomatoes are expensive, full of pesticides, and considerably less tasty than the ones you grew or purchased over the summer.

One of my favorite things to do with extra tomatoes is make sauce. If you don't grow your own tomatoes but enjoy frequenting the farmer's markets, you don't have to miss out on making great sauce. To save yourself some money on the tomatoes, look for tomatoes that farmers are selling at a reduced price because they are either on the verge of being overripe or for some reason don't look as good as their other produce.

To make my own tomato sauce, I harvested the following ingredients from the garden:
  • 5 tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • A healthy handful of parsley
I added these additional ingredients:
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Oregano
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
Here's how I made the sauce:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the 6 cloves of garlic, chopped, the green pepper, also chopped, and sea salt, to taste. Saute over medium heat:

Keeping an eye on the skillet, chop the tomatoes into 1" wedges:

Add the tomatoes, rosemary, parsley, oregano, sugar, and freshly ground pepper to the skillet. Some people don't like sugar in their tomato sauce, but I find that just a little bit adds a nice flavor:

Cook the sauce over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Tomatoes contain a lot of water, so it's important to let the water evaporate during this time.

After about 20 minutes, reduce heat to low and carefully blend the sauce using an immersion blender. The sauce will be very hot! If you don't have an immersion blender, carefully spoon the tomato sauce into a blender of food processor and blend. The amount of blending you do is up to you, depending on how chunky you like your tomato sauce:

Continue to cook the sauce over medium-low heat until it thickens even more, stirring frequently. This will probably take another 20 minutes, depending on how thick you like your tomato sauce.

Spoon the sauce into a jar or glass container. Use within 7 days or freeze for later use.

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