Living in a prominently Italian neighbourhood, virtually all of our neighbours grow tomatoes each summer. Cari and I have been, too, though admittedly we always end up with way more than we’d ever know what to do with.
Last year we tried preserving tomato sauce at the end of the season, but ended up burning it at the bottom of the pan. As a result, we were left with sauce that took a lot of time and effort but tasted pretty lousy. This year, we decided it would be more sensible to make and freeze batches of tomato sauce as tomatoes continue to grow throughout the rest of the summer into early fall. That would also allow us to try a variety of recipes to see which we’d like the best.
Obviously there are hundreds, if not thousands, of tomato sauce recipes out there. Where to begin? We decided to start with Joy of Cooking, whose simple tomato sauce contains little more than tomatoes, carrots, celery, and a few herbs and spices. It turned out quite well and tasted great. So great that we tried a second version that added 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil) that had been softened in boiling water for about 20 minutes before adding along (drained and chopped) with the garlic and basil.
Tomato Sauce (courtesy of Joy of Cooking)
Makes 2 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib with leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped basil, rosemary, sage or thyme (we used rosemary)
1 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1. Heart olive oil in a large skillet (we used a saucepan) over medium heat
2. Add onion, carrot, celery and parsley. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes for one batch and a bit longer for multiple batches
3. Add garlic and basil, rosemary, sage or rhythme and stir for about 30 seconds
4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, crushing the tomatoes with the side of a spoon occasionally to help them break down.
5. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, longer if making multiple batches
6. We like our tomato sauce on the smoother side, so I used an immersion blender to get it mostly pureed. If you prefer chunky sauce, you may prefer to omit this stip.
A very tasty sauce that we’ve already used as a base for pizza, along with pasta and even simply for dipping bread. It’s great knowing that we have 10 frozen portions ready to go for the months ahead.