Sunday, October 7, 2012

You Say Tomato . . .

Because tomato season is drawing close to an end here in California, I thought I'd buy more tomatoes at the farmers' market on Saturday and make and freeze spaghetti sauce for the winter months.  I hoped to find some overripe tomatoes at a good price, but I got even luckier than that.  I stopped at a booth where three or four women were picking through a pile of medium sized tomatoes.  I grabbed a bag, thinking I'd join in because the price was pretty good, but before I started filling my bag, I noticed the seller separating out the less-than-perfect tomatoes and putting them into a bag.  I asked him if he'd like to sell those tomatoes at a discounted price, because they were just what I was looking for; he didn't speak English but a younger man who I thought might be his son interpreted.  They told me I could have the bag of tomatoes for free because they'd just throw them away.  Gosh, you can't beat that price, can you?

This was my bag of free tomatoes.  I found another booth that had overripe tomatoes at a cheap price and bought those too.  All in all, I think I spent under $3 on tomatoes and ended up with a decent pot of sauce.  Want the recipe?

First I roasted the tomatoes.  To do that, I preheat the oven to 500 degrees while I cut the tomatoes into large chunk.

The tomatoes go onto a jelly roll pan (I had two full pans) with three or four cloves of chopped garlic, about 1/4 cup of chopped basil, about a tablespoon of dried oregano, sea salt and pepper--these measurements are for each pan of tomatoes.  I then drizzle olive oil over everything fairly liberally--probably about 1/8 cup--and stir it all together.  Then into the oven it goes.

How long do the tomatoes roast?  Good question!  I meant to time it so I could tell you, but I forgot.  When I started to really smell the roasting tomatoes about 10 or 15 minutes into it, I opened the oven and stirred everything around and put the pans back for maybe another 10 to 15 minutes.  The tomatoes will be slightly browned on top and some of the juice will have started to thicken; the tomatoes will be pretty soft.  That's about the time to take them out.  See?

Next, I cut up a white onion and sauteed it in a frying pan with a little more olive oil.  Once the onion was cooked, I added it to the two pans of roasted tomatoes and put everything into a large pot.

To the mixture, I added about a half cup of wine--I prefer red wine, but I had an open bottle of white, so I used that.  I also added the equivalent of a small can of tomato paste--I like to buy these tubes of tomato paste at Trader Joe's to keep in the refrigerator, so that's what I used--probably about half the tube or so.  I also added a little sugar--probably about two tablespoons.  The sugar cuts the acid in the tomatoes and the wine; I don't add enough to make the sauce sweet; just enough to balance the flavors and make it less acidic.  Then I added a little more salt and pepper to taste.

I love my imersion blender.  I blended the tomato and onion mixture in the pot until it was a bit smoother.  If you don't have an imersion blender, use a regular blender or food processor.  After the sauce was blended, I added two bay leaves.

When I don't add ground beef to my spaghetti sauce, I usually like to add beef bouillon and mushrooms--they take the place of the meat.  That's what I did this time.  I added the bag of sliced mushrooms (crimini, baby bella, or white are all fine) and a heaping tablespoon of bouillon.  A second bag of mushrooms would have been great too, but I didn't have another bag on hand, darn it.  But in any event, neither of these ingredients is vital to a good sauce--it just depends on your taste preference.

After everything was in the pot, I cooked the sauce covered on low for maybe about an hour to allow the flavors to blend and develop.

I ended up with enough pasta sauce for our dinner Saturday night and four containers for the freezer for later in the year--each container is enough for three or four main dish servings of pasta.  And the cost was pretty minimal since half of the tomatoes were free and the other half were pretty inexpensive.

If you still have fresh tomatoes where you live, you might want to try this recipe and stock up for the winter--nothing beats the taste of ripe, locally-grown, tomatoes in season.


Denise in PA said...

Wow, Kim, what a fantastic recipe (Spaghetti and sauce is my favorite meal!). I'm going to go find the last of the tomatoes around here so I can make this!! Thanks so much for sharing this.

Miss Jean said...

I have never heard of roasting the tomatoes first. This is something I think I'd like to try. Thanks for the recipe!!

Laura said...

Thank you for posting this recipe! Our first tomato crop produced a ton of tomatoes and I have been wanting to use some to make a home made spaghetti sauce. Yours looks amazing!

Shirley--Knot-y Embroidery Lady said...

Yum! Thanks for sharing your yummy recipe! Missing you.