One of my earliest memories is of my mother putting tomatoes through a food mill. Of course, I had no idea what she was doing with them. The outcome was always tomato soup with little meatballs. Oddly, I hated tomato soup when I was a child. I also hated "noodles". Surprised? What kid hates noodles, right? I blame the nuns. One force-fed lunch and it took most of my life to come to terms with any kind of noodle. To this day, I prefer the term pasta....a word which didn't exist in that Catholic school so many years ago. Which brings me to today and a bowl full of tomatoes that were quickly going south.
The tomatoes started out green. Several weeks ago, my friend/coworker, Brenda, brought in a huge bag of them that she was about to throw away. She thought maybe I would make good use of them. I toyed with the idea of fried green tomatoes. I googled and found a recipe for green tomato cake. I thought maybe a green tomato chutney might be nice. But, with all of my procrastination, the tomatoes finally turned red, and were one step away from becoming rotten. I had to work fast and I had to work with what I had on hand. The decision was made: Tomato Sauce.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves crushed garlic
10-12 ripe small to medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges *
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Place the oil and butter in a large pot over medium/high heat. When the butter is melted, reduce heat to medium and add the onions, carrots and garlic. Sauté the vegetables until soft, about 5 minutes.
Oops, I forgot to peel my tomatoes. It's ok, though. I used a food mill when the sauce was cooked.
Add the tomatoes, seasoning, bay leaves, basil, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium/low. Simmer uncovered for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and the tomato paste. Adjust the seasonings, if needed. Continue to simmer uncovered until desired thickness is reached, about an hour.
I was doing everything backwards. Where are the onions? The carrots?
Let the sauce cool for a few minutes. Discard the bay leaves and process the sauce through a food mill or a blender.
* If fresh tomatoes aren't available, use (2) 28 oz cans of whole plum tomatoes.
A quick swipe through the food mill will get rid of the skin and seeds and smooth out the sauce. I was an idiot and did it twice. I started with the tomatoes and did it again at the end. Once is plenty.
There they are!
Not sure what to do with the rest of the tomato paste? Plop it down on non-stick foil by the tablespoon, freeze, then wrap each one up in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag.
Brenda also brought me some homemade noodles. Perfect for homemade sauce, don't you think?
Now, wasn't that easy? I bet you'll never go back to jarred sauce again.
This is just a basic sauce recipe. Feel free to add whatever spices you like--maybe some red pepper flakes? Or some other fresh herbs? If the tomatoes are a little sour, add a pinch or two of sugar. Don't forget, this would make a great pizza sauce, too.
As for me, I made quite the mess of my kitchen today. No time left for dessert. Luckily, the husband stopped at See's and brought me back a Pecan Pie Truffle.