August 17, 2012

Homemade Italian Tomato Sauce


It's go time!  The 100 tomato plants are yielding beautiful sweet, juicy tomatoes.  We have spent countless hours over the past few weeks making salsa with family and friends and have had many laughs and plenty of (onion) tears.  My fingers have reeked of garlic, onion and cilantro for quite some time now!  I decided to take advantage of the plethora of tomatoes the garden is yielding and make some homemade tomato sauce.

For this sauce, I start out with a soffritto of onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in some olive oil.  Because I have so many bell peppers on hand from the garden, I added some to the sauce but this is not necessary.  I then add the tomato, a little Romano, some burgundy and seasonings.  Even though it can be somewhat time consuming, making your own tomato sauce from scratch is very rewarding and the taste is better than the stuff from the jar.  



Ingredients:
Yields about 1 quart
  • 5 lb tomatoes
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 3 carrots, chopped 
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • Optional:  2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 c burgundy
  • 1/4 c Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram 
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme 
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste 
  • Optional:  2 to 3 tbsp white sugar, or to taste


Directions:

Prepare the tomato puree.  Create an ice bath in a large bowl by combining half cold water and half ice cubes.  Set aside until ready to use.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the tomatoes, several at a time, to the boiling water and boil for 1 minute.  Quickly drain the tomatoes and immediately plunge them into the ice bath.  This will make the skin slide right off of the tomatoes.  Allow the tomatoes to sit in the ice bath until they are cool enough to handle.  Place a colander over a large bowl.  Working over the colander (this reserves the fresh tomato juice), slide the skins off of each tomato, twist off the top stem and squeeze out the seeds.  Reserve the tomato juice that collects in the bowl.  Place the seeded tomatoes in a food processor and process until smooth.  Set the tomato puree aside until ready to use.  


Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and bell pepper and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer.  Stir the tomato puree, burgundy, Romano, basil, bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage and pepper flakes into the vegetable mixture.  


Bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  


Remove the bay leaves.  Pour the tomato sauce in a food processor and process until smooth.  At this point, you can make a few adjustments to the sauce to affect the thickness.  This is all about preference and is not necessary.  If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can add a little tomato paste to the sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time to your desired thickness.  Because my family prefers a thinner sauce, I add some of the reserved tomato juice or some water to thin it out.  Again, this is not necessary and is all about preference.

Taste the sauce and season with salt, pepper, and sugar, to taste.  I typically add 2 tablespoons of sugar and an extra teaspoon of salt at this point because we prefer a sweeter sauce. 

Serve over cooked pasta and enjoy!


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