Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Urban Farming Overabundance: Fresh Tomato Sauce

Our tomatoes have been producing like crazy lately. So many, in fact, that I can't get them picked fast enough before they start to over ripen on the vine.

Today we went and I stripped the heirlooms as aggressively as I could; lots of beautiful orange, yellow, black, and (boring!) red lovelies to fill up the refrigerator.

One thing I know some people struggle with is what to do with "mushy" tomatoes. I have even seen people in the garden throw them in the compost bin because they were soft. Ahhhhh! Today we had a fair amount of beautiful ripe "mushy" fruit and I decided that it looked like just the right amount to cook for dinner.  Here is a quick rundown of what I did with them; hopefully it will help you avoid the temptation to toss the mushers!

The first step was to separate out all of the mushy tomatoes. We had a nice big wire basket that we filled up -- you can see the wonderful variety of color in the tomatoes.

Into the food processor they go! I threw in a medium sized onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and ran it pretty aggressively to get everything nice and liquid-y. Not pureed exactly, I still like my sauce a little chunky, but pretty smooth. 

Next I poured the mixture into a stock pot with a little salt, pepper, and "italian seasoning' from Sprouts. Sidebar - I love Sprouts for buying spices. So easy to buy fresh spices and so cheap; their blends are amazing!

The secret to a great sauce from fresh tomatoes (mushy or otherwise) is cooking it long and low (in my opinion).  I can't remember why at the moment ( I believe it was something I heard on America's Test Kitchen), but it is very important that you don't let tomatoes get to a boil when you're cooking them as it will really ruin their fresh flavor. I left them on medium-low uncovered for about three hours until they were nice and thick and had lost most of their water (the kitchen smelled wonderful!) and set the mixure aside until we were ready to make dinner.

Once it was time for dinner, I poured a few cups of red wine in the pot and let it cook off for about 10 minutes. A little grated parmesan, some good EVOO, and half a lemon with it's zest and we were ready to eat! We served it over some farfalla with a few grilled chicken breasts and a spinach, mozzarella, and fresh tomatoes salad on the side. It was a wonderful "mushy tomato" dinner!

UPDATE: I forgot to take a picture of the finished product yesterday, but I got this pic today from leftover lunchtime

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