Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fresh Tomato Sauce

You all know that my relationship with my tomato plant has been tumultuous to say the least. (Want to catch up on that saga? Go here, here, and here.) What started off as a very exciting prospect has become tedious, frustrating, and even downright maddening. The final verdict: I've pulled all of the tomatoes off the plant and I'm killing it this week. However, I did manage to salvage one big batch of ripe tomatoes from the plant (before this last harvest, so two in total) and I needed to do something valuable with them. I spent so much time trying to bring the little suckers into this world, they needed to be appreciated.

So we decided to make a real  tomato sauce. From scratch. No cut corners. I'm going to share a couple of recipes over the next few weeks of things you can do with this sauce. Consider it the recipe that keeps on giving. And you should really keep making it. It's absolutely delicious and really simple. We've actually made it again since the original time and it will be a regular in this house. The sauce was originally intended as a pizza sauce. We used it for pizza, but also for pasta, so it's pretty flexible.

Fresh Tomato Sauce
recipe adapted from here
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 anchovy filets
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 can (28 oz) whole peeled “San Marzano” tomatoes, or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp sugar

1. Start with your tomatoes. If they are fresh like mine, blanch them for 30 seconds or more, until they are just tender and the skins pull off easily. If they are from the store (and have been refrigerated), you'll need to do closer to two minutes.

2. Skin the tomatoes and put them all in a bowl. If you are using canned tomatoes, empty the entire contents of the can into a bowl. Using your hands, mash them up to your desired consistency.

3. Heat up your olive oil. Add the anchovy fillets and cook for a few minutes until they start to break down. I know most people think anchovies are gross. I certainly wouldn't eat them on their own. But they add such a nice complexity to the flavor of the sauce and the perfect amount of saltiness. If you want to omit the fish, be sure to add salt to taste.

4. Add the garlic and fresh herbs and cook down for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and give it all a big stir.

5. Bring to a hearty simmer, and then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for at least 40 minutes, but up to a few hours depending on how long you want to let it go. You may need to add a little water if your pan has been on the stove for a long time to achieve the desired consistency. If you want to, you can always run the sauce through a food processor to get it extra smooth, or just serve chunky. Enjoy!

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