|Harvest Season: fresh tomatoes from my garden and peppers from my mom's garden|
I have TONS of tomatoes right now. They seem to be one of the few plants in my garden to remain unaffected by the drought. It did finally rain yesterday and the cats and dog were so confused I had to let them out on the deck so they could remember what rain looks and smells like! It had been nearly two months without rain and we really needed that downpour, brief as it was.
Making fresh homemade tomato sauce seemed like a good project to try out. First I brought a large bot of salted water to a boil, then submerged about twenty tomatoes of different sizes into the water, going in ascending order based on size. The goal is to get their skins to crack and peel a bit, usually takes a minute or two. Next the tomatoes get plunged into an ice bath.
|Peeled and de-seeded tomatoes after the ice bath- a few seeds evaded the squeeze but no harm done!|
Once the tomatoes have cooled enough to handle, you should be able to easily remove the skins and squeeze out the seeds. Squeezing out the seeds is fun but can get messy, so don't wear white like I did!
The tomato pulp then gets food processed until smooth, like this:
I chopped up red peppers and white onion to create a flavorful base for the sauce. You can use any veggies you like. Carrots, bell peppers or any sturdy vegetable will work. I added garlic too, but waited until later to add it. I've found if garlic is added too early, the flavor gets cooked out.
|For easy clean up, use coffee filters to hold your chopped veggies until they are ready to be added to the pan.|
Add some olive oil to a pan over medium heat and allow it to become warm before adding the vegetables. You want them to sizzle as they hit the pan.
|Red pepper and onion in the saute pan|
|You can almost smell the deliciousness through the computer screen, right?|
Cook until translucent and then pour in the pureed tomato mixture. You might want to hold a lid between you and the pan because it has a tendency to splash. Sprinkle in whatever spices you like, I grabbed oregano, parsley, cayenne pepper, basil, sugar, bay leaves and salt. Give it a quick stir and allow the mixture to begin bubbling again.
Now comes the easy part: cover it with a lid, turn the heat as low as it will go and leave it alone! I let mine be for a little over an hour and then went to check on it. It had reduced quite a bit so I added some extra tomato puree but wine would also work. I also added the garlic at this point, too. Cover again and cook on low heat until you're ready to eat. The flavor just keeps developing the longer it cooks, although it does become more like a paste. Try out different cook times and see what works for you.
Meanwhile, I boiled some cheese raviolis. I was in a hurry so I used store-bought, but nothing compares to homemade raviolis. They are a lot of work but really fun to make. I will make a post about homemade raviolis soon!
|The finished product: homemade tomato sauce|
After all that waiting, the sauce was finally ready. It tasted so incredible. The flavor is much more complex and hearty than a canned/bottled sauce from the store. You've gotta try it!
|Cheese ravioli with homemade tomato sauce|