Thursday, October 6, 2011

Garden Tomato Sauce

Garden tomatoes are sweet and meaty all the way through.  Not like grocery store tomatoes that are full of water and seeds.  We grew four different types of tomatoes, New Girl, Beef Steak, Roma and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.  I was one of the lucky ones when it came to tomatoes this year.  I say this because our summer in Oregon has been short and cold, which usually signifies a fake out in the garden.
  We watch with anticipation as the wealth of tomato flowers mature into beautiful big and baby green tomatoes, creating an excitement as we watch them turn a light shade of yellowish orange, then a vibrant deep red indicating that they are almost ready to be picked.

Then, just when you decide to give them a day or two more to ripen on the vine a cold snap will roll in bringing with it an endless pouring of rain.  The combination of cold and wet together can destroy your tomato harvest overnight.  You wait but nothing happens.  The green tomatoes stay green and never fully ripen eventually rotting on the vine, while the ones that are almost ready will absorb too much water all at once and burst cracking the skin leaving behind a watery tomato.  It’s a very sad situation.

Luckily for me a sneaky little raccoon slipped into my garden from under the fence as well as a family of deer, chomping the new growth from the top, feasting on my broccoli and young tomato plants early in the season.  I say lucky because if that had not happened.  I wouldn’t have had such a wonderful harvest. 

After this disheartening discovery, my very resourceful husband decided to take a large roll of plastic food wrap and wrap it around the bed to keep the critters out.  Deliberately creating a “look, but don’t touch” fence around our vegetable beds.  This resulted in an accidental green house that protected the tomatoes from the cold Oregon summer and at the same time fully exposing the tomatoes to the sunlight (at least when it came out).  It goes to show that some of the best ideas come out of frustration.

My husband loves fresh tomato sauce in its purest form tossed with pasta and finished with a sprinkling of fresh grated parmesan cheese. 

The tomato sauce experience for him is in the clean fresh tomato flavor.  The oven roasting caramelizes the natural sugars and brings out a true balance of sweetness without the addition of sugar.  It’s sort of like eating tomato candy.

This is the mother sauce for anything that needs or calls for a blast of tomato flavor.

4 – 6       pounds                 tomatoes, cut the large ones in half
3              large                      cloves garlic, peeled
¼             cup                         olive oil
1 -2         tsp.                        kosher salt
¼             tsp.                        black pepper

Place the tomatoes and garlic on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roast on the middle rack in a 450 degree oven for 30 – 45 minutes or when most of the moister has cooked away and the tomatoes are lightly caramelized.
Pull off the skins from the larger tomatoes.  You can leave the skins on the cherry’s.

Place the roasted tomatoes in a blender or food processor along with any liquid  in the pan and blend to puree.

If you prefer a chunkier sauce, mash with a potato masher or with your hands (when cool enough to handle).

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