Thursday, November 15, 2007

The LAST tomatoes--a fitting sendoff

Roma tomatoes
I roast and puree for sauce.
The end of summer


My first season of gardening went fairly well. However, as I've learned is the case with most tomato growers, I had a ton of green tomatoes on the vine before the first frost. After experimenting, with mixed results, with fried green tomatoes, green tomato pie, and green tomato batter bread, I came across some good news.

Apparently, you can ripen fully green tomatoes off the vine!

Of course, I should have realized this, because that's what the commercial farms do--it's why grocery store tomatoes taste so bad. But I never made the connection that it was something anyone could do at home.

So, a little under a month after I picked my green tomatoes, more than half of them are red, and ripe for making into roasted tomato sauce (pun intended).

This is based off of Alton Brown's tomato sauce, and from the Too Many Chef's food blog. but with my own spin. It's less a recipe and more of a method. I rarely measure out amounts.

This sauce comes out as thick as tomato paste, but flavored like tomato sauce. I especially love it because I don't have to seed or peel tomatoes, and it makes a larger quantity of sauce from the same amount of fruit. I tried this recipe after doing traditional tomato sauce three or four times this summer. I'll never boil another tomato sauce again. Roasting is the way.

End of summer roasted tomato sauce
As many ripe tomatoes as you can lay your hands on
Fresh or dried herbs
olive oil
some kind of alcoholic liquid (I use vermouth)
fresh garlic
salt and pepper

Slice tomatoes about 1/2 an inch thick. Estimate--thicker is OK. For small Roma tomatoes, just slice them in half lengthwise. Dump into large baking sheet, or 9X13 pan, whatever you have that's oven safe and large enough to hold your tomatoes. Season tomatoes liberally with salt and pepper. Add herbs, peeled garlic (leave whole). Add some olive oil and a little bit of alcohol.

Bake in a 350 degree oven, stirring every half hour or so. It will take at least an hour, closer to two, but the liquid will evaporate and the tomatoes will cook down to a dark, rich sticky mess. If it's taking more than two hours, turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes in there overnight, and proceed with the rest in the morning.

Remove tomatoes from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Scrape into blender or food processor. If you put whole herbs with the stem in, make sure to pick out the stems.

Blend tomatoes together, seeds, skins, and all, stopping to scrape the sides of the blender if you need to. Have a little water (or alcohol) handy to add to the blender if the puree is too thick.

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