Tag Archives: roasted tomatoes

Roasted tomato sauce II

2 Sep

This summer has been all about the roasted tomato sauce. So far I have cooked and frozen around 20 quarts, and the season isn’t over yet.

The whole roasting idea started for me back in the fall of 2011, when my friend Joe sent me his wife Joel’s recipe for roasted green tomato sauce. My garden was inundated with unripe tomatoes that year and Joe was trying to help me to make use of them all.

Since then I have adapted Joel’s basic method to roast all combinations of tomatoes, often fully ripe ones. Every batch is a little different, but all are rich in flavor and delicious. You can see by the picture above that I’ve been using mostly ripe tomatoes this year, but the beauty of roasting is that it doesn’t really matter which ones you use. Any combination of tomatoes that you can get your hands on, at practically any time of year, will work. Best of all, roasting a large batch of fresh sauce at high heat is faster and easier than simmering on a stovetop.

This batch is a pretty big one (I had to use a giant 13.5-quart dutch oven to fit all the garden tomatoes I had on hand), and so you’ll need to make adjustments to cooking times and ingredients depending on how much sauce you’re actually making. But don’t worry. Play around and experiment as much as you want, because it’s really pretty hard to screw up a roasted sauce.

Just core the tops off all of your tomatoes.

Slice off the bottoms too.

Then cut the tomatoes into pieces like this. (I don’t peel the skins, if you were wondering, nor do I clean out the seeds.)

In a dutch oven saute some chopped garlic, onion, carrots, celery, hot pepper if you like, plus plenty of fresh herbs. I used rosemary, oregano, thyme and marjoram for this batch. Don’t be shy with the olive oil; the more of it the better as far as I’m concerned. Oh, and I’m not shy with the garlic either; there are around 10 cloves in here. (There are also four carrots, four celery stalks and a huge red onion, but as I said, play around and adjust at will.)

I’ve been making sauce both with and without different types of meats this summer. In this batch I added two pounds of ground pork after the vegetables and herbs had softened, then let the pork brown a bit before moving on to the next step. (You can use beef or veal instead of pork; or, for a plain tomato sauce, just skip the meat altogether.)

Next step is to add in the tomatoes, stir it all up, cover and toss into an oven that’s been preheated to 450 degrees F.

At this point the amount of sauce you’re making will determine the cooking time. This batch of tomatoes nearly filled my 13.5-quart dutch oven, and so I waited a full hour before removing the cover for the remaining time it took the sauce to cook.

About an hour and a half later (2 1/2 hours total cooking time) the sauce was done.

Once it had cooled I doled it out into sturdy plastic containers for freezing.

As I said, I’m at 20 frozen quarts and counting at the moment, and I’m betting that I’ll wind up with a dozen more. Which is to say that, should you find yourself in my nabe at any point during the coming Maine winter, give a knock on the door. Who knows, I may be in a generous mood.

Just bring along something red of your own to go with. If you catch my drift.

Roasted (green) tomato sauce

6 Sep
Be honest. How many tomatoes do you gardeners wind up with every year that look just like this?
Sure, some of them ripen just fine sitting on the kitchen counter or inside a paper bag. But a lot of them don’t, and so they wind up not on a plate but in the compost pile.
I have an intimate knowledge of this topic, believe me. Every year I shepherd two to three dozen tomato plants through the short, confounding Maine summer. And every year I can count on one thing: that I will harvest almost as many tomatoes that look like this as any other.
There’s a reason for this, of course. It’s too damned cold up here. A proper tomato season is warm and long, and warm and long is something that Maine summers do not do so well. Hell, it’s been in the 50s overnight here for a couple weeks already.
Of course, there was also that “weather event” a little more than a week ago. One of the most important things that I did to prepare for Hurricane Irene was not boarding up the windows or tying down the lawn ornaments. It was heading over to my garden with lots of heavy canvas bags so that I could harvest the many as-yet-unripe tomatoes that were at risk of being damaged by the storm. Between Irene and the oncoming change of season I think I wound up with thirty pounds of unripe tomatoes last week.
Lucky for me, I have a friend named Joe, whose mission in life is to spread useful knowledge to anybody who will listen to him. Largely this knowledge centers around world travel, as that is Joe’s specialty, but my friend is versed in topics far afield as well.
Joe knows tomatoes, for instance. And he knew what to do with the pounds and pounds of unripe tomatoes that I was saddled with. (I don’t do fried green tomatoes, okay, so save the suggestion for somebody else.)
I would never in a million years have guessed it, but Joe told me to make a sauce.
Yes, a sauce. With green tomatoes.
Not only did he tell me what to do, he provided me with a recipe, one provided to him by his lovely wife Joel. It is a good recipe. I know this because I tried it. Twice. Joe wanted me to pass along Joel’s recipe to all of you, which I am very happy to do.
I am happy because the recipe allows you to take tomatoes that look like this…
…and turn them into a rich-tasting, very satisfying, all-purpose tomato sauce that looks like this.
Late-season tomato picking here in Maine will never again be the same.
It will be a lot better.
Joel Ann Rea’s Roasted Tomato Sauce
Recipe
4 to 8 pounds of fresh tomatoes, cored and quartered or loosely chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and split (Joel uses 5 to 7, but she and Joe love garlic)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or enough to coat ingredients
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
10 to 12 basil leaves, chopped (reserve to add after cooking)
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.
In heavy Dutch oven, place tomatoes, onion and garlic. Add olive oil and stir. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours (check and stir when you begin to smell the sauce, then keep roasting until you like the look and feel).
When sauce reaches desired consistency, remove from oven. Lightly mash tomato mixture with heavy spoon or potato masher, then add basil and stir.
Serve over pasta, to top fish or chicken, or as side dish. Sauce flavor deepens deliciously over 1 to 3 days while refrigerated. Can also be frozen.
Note from Joel: This works well with any variety of tomato and is great with a mixture of types, from fully ripe to green off the vine. Cherry, midget, pear and grape varieties also work well, just add whole.
Note from Meatball: I used a fair number of green tomatoes and found it necessary to add a little sugar to bring things into balance.