Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mmmm Sauce.

Alright, are you ready? It's sauce time. Hunker down, this is going to be a long one. That's how sauce rolls.

Let's start this party by making one thing clear: everyone has a different recipe for sauce and I strongly encourage you to make up your own. There are a few undeniable basic elements (um, tomatoes, duh), but otherwise, you've got a lot of freedom. And you know me; I almost never make it the same way twice. One rule I hold fast to: I only make sauce on the weekends. You'll see why.

So we've been getting plenty of tomatoes (to-MAH-toes, as my farmer calls them) from Luna Farm and I've been trying to be creative with them. When we got these bad boys from Steve's grandfather, however...
Please note that the cantaloupe is used here for size comparison purposes, not sauce-making purposes.

I knew it was sauce time. Steve's Papa Joe has been organic since long before organic was cool. He has more biodiversity and richer soil in a 20x30 foot garden than I've ever seen. It's just stunning. I'll post pics of him and his Garden of Eden soon!
So we've got these maters.
I always start my sauce with onions and garlic sauteeing in oil. Today I used half of a large white onion and one entire head of garlic from Papa Joe. Once those onions are a little bit softer, I add some aromatics. Take your pic. If you've got fresh stuff on hand, knock your socks off. The dry stuff works fine. I like rosemary, thyme and oregano. (Side note: I never cooked with thyme until I lived in Italy; I learned thyme as "thymo," so I have trouble calling it anything else. Please forgive, I promise not to go around acting like Giada. I will never, never, never pronounce it "pan-CHATE-tuh" or "moootz-a-rell-uh.") Many people use one or two bay leaves in their sauce. Please, dear friends, if you love me at all, please don't tell my grandfather that I don't use bay leaves. You see, I love to eat. So the thought of putting something in my food that I ultimately have to pull out is just upsetting. Please don't tell PeePaw I said that.

Steve's mom uses baby carrots in her sauce and I always find it a pleasant surprise, so I decided to try it. We had some white Luna Farm carrots kicking around, so I sliced them on the bias and tossed those in to soften.
In the meantime...
start choppin'.

Many people remove the skins and seeds from the tomatoes. I'd love to know where they find the time. Mrs. D uses some sort of contraption and that sounds lovely, but I don't have one of those thingamajiggies. I usually just leave 'em on and call it "rustic." Anyone who has a problem with it is welcome to come and make me some sauce. For now, I'm trying something new: the blender. (I know I promised you a cushy life, Blendie, but come on... they're just tomatoes!)
This worked beautifully.
Here's a step I would try next time: drain off some of the liquid. I thought if I pureed the tomatoes, it would make a bit of a paste while also chopping the tomato peels to smithereens, but it didn't quite work. Back story: I've been trying for ages to make sauce without using tomato paste. There is nothing wrong with paste. It's perfectly natural (provided you buy a natural brand) and, as Steve loves to remind me, even his grandmother used it (and trust me, her kitchen was the Holy Grail of all things delicious), but I'd like to avoid it. If I can make an entire meal using real whole food, I will be so proud of myself.

My pride will have to wait.

So once the onions, garlic, carrots, and spices are all enjoying their little party, pour in the tomato puree. Steve and I both like a few chunks in our sauce, so I added some chunks of tomato to the mix. As I said, most people don't like the peels. Peeling is a pain. When your tomatoes are this big, however...
It's no big deal to peel it by hand. Which I did. I squished up the chunks in a strainer to get some of the excess juice off, and tossed them into the pot.
Huge. H-U-G-E

And that's really it. Everything dances around on low heat for a while (I'm sorry, were you hoping for a time?) until your whole house smells like heaven and you wish it was raining cappellini.
One for the fridge, one for the freezer! (And yes, I reuse old jars without peeling off the labels...)

Then take some pictures and tell me how it turns out!


  1. i literally cannot get over those tomatoes. i keep going back to see if they got smaller.

  2. I'm a little in love. I could photograph tomatoes all day. Maybe we could work that into a banner?