Tomatoes are one of the best things about summer.
Actually, all the fruits and veggies that we’ve been getting are the best.
They’re all favorites.
I want them to last all year long. I know that in a month or two, when it finally starts to cool down, I will be thankful for the heartier root veggies, apples, and pears that will be coming. But, for now, let’s keep talking about summer. ‘Cause I’m not quite ready to be done with it yet.
It starts with a bunch of Roma tomatoes. They’re my favorite for sauce. They have less seeds and goopy bits, and I find them a little less watery… Hooooowever, use what you have! Use what you have! Use what you have!!!
I quartered mine, sliced off the hard bit at the end, and then roughly chopped them. They’re going to be blended later, so precision isn’t necessary. You may have noticed that I didn’t peel them. Later you will notice that I don’t strain them. You can if you want, but a little tomato peel and seeds don’t bother me.
They cook up for a few minutes, then are mashed up with a potato masher. This just speeds things along a bit, breaking down-wise.
If you want to have just a plan tomato sauce, blend it up here and cook for an hour and a half or two.
I know how I like my tomato sauce, so I thought I’d get ahead of the game a little, and add some onions, garlic, herbs, and a few other things to the mix before blending.
It’s up to you.
Choose your own adventure.
My adventure has a whole head of garlic in it. Just the way I like it.
Oh mah goodness the smell in our kitchen was just fantastic. A whole head of garlic is just like heaven to me.
I have basil, parsley, and oregano growing in my garden right now. I added those summer favorites, along with some dried thyme and rosemary. Plus a glug of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of honey.
Then I cooked it all up until the water had mostly evaporated and the sauce was thick.
Quick blend with the hand blender (or the regular blender).
Taste. Add more salt if you want, but remember that you will probably be using this along with other things, so under-salting is ok here.
And only here.
I had some jars sterilized and ready. I will store these in the freezer, since I don’t want to process them in a water bath for 35 minutes. Is it just me, or does anyone else get nervous about the jars breaking and losing their precious sauce? I don’t have a canning set, and I’m definitely not risking jars in a large pot of boiling water bumping in to each other.
The next thing to do is to figure out how to use this amazing sauce.
You can pair it with things like pasta, meats, and breads. It will go great with veggies too.
Specifically, you could make Eggplant or Squash Parmesan, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Deconstructed Lasagne, Meat and Cheese Lasagna, and Summer Pizza. Or, if you just can’t wait, grab some crusty bread and dip it in to the sauce. Good idea right?!
- 5 pounds Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 t salt
- Extras: 2 T olive oil
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 1 head (about 12 cloves) garlic, roughly chopped
- pinch pepper
- 1/4 fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 2 T fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 T fresh oregano, roughly chopped
- 1 t dried rosemary, crushed
- 1 t dried thyme
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 T honey
- Combine tomatoes and salt in a large pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Mash with a potato masher and cook for 10 minutes more.
- (If you don’t want to add anything else, skip to step 5.)
- Add olive oil to a hot pan. Add onions (bell pepper, zucchini) and cook over medium heat with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes more.
- Add onion mixture, herbs, vinegar, and honey to the tomatoes. Use a spatula to get all the garlic infused oil from the pan. Stir once to combine.
- Blend with a hand blender, or in batches in a regular blender – removing the plug from the lid and covering with a clean towel.
- Bring back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1.5 – 2 hours, or until sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Sterilize your canning jars, bands, and lids in a pot of boiling water for at least 10 minutes at a rolling boil (or in the dishwasher).
- Pour sauce in to jars, leaving an inch or so (or a bit less) at the top for expansion.
- Store in the freezer once they have cooled completely.*
(Yields about 2.5 pints or 5 C sauce.)
*To process jars in a water bath Ball suggests that you add 1 T lemon juice to each jar before filling and process in a water bath for 35 minutes. Do this if you want to store at room temperature – only store at room temperature if they have sealed properly).