A couple of weeks ago I finally used some of the seemly simple tomato sauce I made during harvest in the fall. It was even better than I remembered. It’s a fairly involved recipe but the results are worth the effort. I made it easier by not straining or peeling my Roma tomatoes, but a food mill works well for that task if you want to do it. I used an immersion blender but a food processor or blender can be used if necessary. To blend in the onions and garlic, put them in the cup of food processor or blender with a couple cups of tomato sauce. Purée until smooth & return the sauce to the stockpot.
I call this a three tomato sauce because it uses three different cooking times for the tomatoes: lightly cooked sauce, slow cooked sauce, & long cooked tomato paste. This method gives the sauce a complex, rich flavor that you can’t find in commercially made sauces. I use Roma tomatoes but any plum tomato can be used or a combination of types of tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are not as watery as larger tomatoes & make great sauces. Cooking times vary based on how much water is in the tomatoes. Due to limited energy, I purchased tomato paste rather than making my own. This recipe is easily doubled, but make sure you have a stockpot or bowl big enough. I made & froze a single batch and a double batch.
The sauce can be used as it is or other ingredients can be added to make a heartier sauce (herbs, celery, mushrooms, Italian sausage, meatballs, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, etc.). It’s very versatile.
2 gallons plum tomatoes
1 sweet onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, optional
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs lemon juice
A few leaves of basil or tomato plant
Salt to taste
Quarter and core tomatoes, removing bad spots. Put them in a large stockpot and simmer until the juices are released and the flesh has broken down to a watery sauce. Run the sauce through a food mill at this time to remove seeds & skins or purée with an immersion blender. Set aside 3 cups of lightly cooked sauce. Steep the basil or tomato leaves and jalapeño, if desired, in the lightly cooked sauce for up to an hour. This gives the sauce a brighter, fresher flavor. Add the tomato paste to the stockpot with the rest of the sauce and simmer for several hours, until it decreases by at least a half, stirring often. Sauté onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the onions and garlic to the stockpot & purée once again with an immersion blender. Add the reserved lightly cooked sauce and lemon juice to stockpot. Season with salt to taste; it’ll take more than you expect, likely several tablespoons. Remove from heat and either put in jars to can or in containers to freeze.