what to do with all those damn tomatoes : sauce of course

6 Sep

A few weeks ago, I got all giddy with excitement because Sean pointed out to me a giant ass caterpillar on one of our tomato plants. The girls were completely enthralled with this Eric Carle-esque real-life experience! See, isn’t it cool?

We watched it closely for a day or two, and then a friend let me know that this was in fact, a horn worm. A creepy ass horn worm, and that it shant ever turn into a beautiful butterfly. Awwwww sick.

Shit. I had to get all kinds of Dexter on this horn worm caterpillar before it took over our plants! And I had to do it whilst the chicks weren’t watching. {The girls think it moved to a more comfortable location to get all cocoony.}

Phew.

Weeks later, my tomatoes are still in full effect, unscathed. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been wishing that just one tomato a day would be ripe enough for the plucking, but in actuality, we went all through July and August with one tomato, and now we’ve got an army of tomatoes on our hands.

If this is the same sitch you’re in, and you’re dying to make your house smell like your 4 foot tall great-grandmother’s, go ahead and whip up some of this homemade tomato sauce.

This is the kind of sauce where, if you left me alone with a loaf of Italian bread and a pot of this sauce, I would be as content as Kathie Lee and her morning glass of wine.

I made this last night and am thinking of giving a container to our neighbors as a “thank you” for watching our house next week while we make our pilgrimage to the land of Zion.

In case you’re not excited for us, this should get you salivating: I will be cooking in the kitchen with my mom and will be blogging as we go. Direct from the trenches, full-on face stuffing in effect next week! Jealous?

FRESH TOMATO SAUCE

5 pounds (about 20 tomatoes), ends trimmed, cut in quarters
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
5-8 stems of basil with leaves (and the flowers on top, too, if they are going to seed)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Have your food processor ready.  Place tomatoes in work bowl and process on and off until pureed in small batches.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan (at least 6 quart size).  Saute the garlic (you can chop the garlic in the food processor before you do the tomatoes for ease in mincing) for 1 minute over LOW heat until just fragrant.

Carefully pour the tomatoes into the pan, add the basil stems (for ease in removing after sauce is cooked, leave the leaves on the stems), the salt, red pepper flakes, and sugar.  Cover; simmer on low heat for 1 hour.

Remove the pan cover, add the butter, and cook another 30 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken slightly.  Taste for seasoning.  Remove the basil stems and use the sauce as desired.  Makes at least 2 quarts tomato sauce.  Can be frozen for later use.

Use the sauce for pizza topping…it’s simple yet flavorful and will accept any other flavors and not be too overwhelming.  Also, you can saute a pound of ground beef in garlic and olive oil and add sauce to make a more substantial meat sauce for lasagna.  How about adding a few cups to steamed mussels?  Or heat 2 cups sauce and add 1 pound raw, peeled and deveined shrimp to make a classic Shrimp Marinara.  Serve over “al dente” linguine, spaghetti, bucatini (I love bucatini) or fettuccine.

Aptly timed, my mom sent me this recipe on Friday, as part of her Fabulous Food Friday weekly emails. To subscribe to receive your Fabulous Food Friday recipes and tips, visit www.margueritehenderson.com

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