Tomato Sauces

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It’s tomato season on the farm, with more production than we can eat fresh or sell on any given day. Because of the volume, we inevitably find ourselves with over-ripe tomatoes, or ones that don’t sell at the Farmer’s Market, or that we don’t include in CSA baskets because they have an imperfection. But I am secretly happy to see a box of these “rejects” because they make excellent canned tomatoes for the long winter months of stews and soups. If you find tomato “seconds” at the market, take advantage of the lower price and give yourself the pleasure of fresh farm tomatoes in January. Even if canning is not a project you want to take on, you can still peel and simmer the tomatoes until thickened and freeze them in quart containers 

 A while ago, Andrea and I sat at her kitchen table talking about marinara sauce; I told her about my version, which is very simple and rustic, relying on very good tomatoes and not much else. She mentioned she wanted to find a recipe her kids would like and I gathered that texture was an issue, so I’m working on a version for her to try; the tomatoes are put through a blender, the garlic is completely pureed on a microplane, and I’ve omitted the red pepper. I’ve also added a tiny amount of sugar to balance the acidity and some butter for creaminess. Finally, the whole sauce is passed through a strainer to remove the seeds. The result looks exactly like canned cream of tomato soup, and whether that is a good thing or not is to be determined.

My Marinara

4 cups home-canned crushed tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons olive oil

crushed red pepper flakes to taste

½ cup dry white wine

fresh basil leaves, whole if very small, otherwise slivered right before adding to the sauce

Heat olive oil and garlic slivers in a saucepan over low heat until the garlic is softened and fragrant. Add the crushed red pepper flakes, then the wine. Turn the heat to medium and simmer a few minutes to allow the alcohol to dissipate. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the sauce is thickened to your liking (30-45minutes). Taste for seasoning; if you use purchased or home-canned tomatoes, they will already have salt added. Stir in the basil.

Marinara test for Andrea

Although the ingredients are very similar, this "marinara" is more like a cream sauce because of the blending and straining. Going forward, I'm renaming it "Tomato Alfredo Sauce" and tossing it with penne pasta. It would also work as a soup, with or without the addition of cream.

4 cups home-canned crushed tomatoes, blended until smooth.

2 cloves garlic, rubbed on a microplane grater  

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ cup dry white wine 

½ teaspoon sugar

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

fresh basil leaves (optional), whole if very small, otherwise slivered right before adding to the sauce

Heat olive oil and garlic in a saucepan over low heat until the garlic is fragrant. Add the wine and turn the heat to medium, simmering a few minutes to allow the alcohol to dissipate. (The wine is optional, but I feel like something is missing when I leave it out). Add the tomatoes and simmer until the sauce is thickened to your liking (30-45 minutes). Taste for seasoning; if you use purchased or home-canned tomatoes, they will already have salt added. For a completely smooth sauce, push the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Stir in the basil if desired.