Sunday, September 11, 2011

Naked Tomato Sauce

I recently found this recipe on a blog called the Smitten Kitchen which is a favorite daily read of mine!  I have always wanted to put up tomatoes for those days in the winter when you want to use the sweet lovely tomatoes from the summer in a rich, delicious soup or stew so I thought I would try this recipe.  In the blog it says that she simply adds the tomato sauce to pasta and calls it a day which sounds heavenly so clearly there are multiple options with this sauce!

Naked Tomato Sauce

3 pound plum tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Small handful basil leaves, most left whole, a few slivered for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, or maybe two if nobody is looking

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato.  Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds,  then either rinse under cold water or shock in an ice water bath.   

Peeling the tomatoes should now be a cinch. Discard the skins. Cut each of your tomatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with your fingertips into a small strainer set over a bowl. Ditch the seeds, reserve the juices.

This was the time consuming part that might be a little more enjoyable with some company, and perhaps a shot of tequila!

Add tomatoes and salt to a large saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high. There are several ways to break the tomatoes down: with your hands, chopping, an immersion blender, or a potato masher which gives you the maximum control over how chunky, smooth you want your sauce.

I started with the potato mashed but then my arm got really tired so I gave in to the immersion blender!  

Once the sauce has begun to boil, turn your heat down to medium-low and gently simmer your tomatoes for 35 to 45 minutes, mashing them more if needed. If they begin to look a little dry, add your strained and reserved tomato juices.  

While the tomato sauce cooks, combine garlic, a few whole basil leaves, a pinch of red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan.  Heat them slowly, over the lowest heat so that they take a long time to come to a simmer.  Once it does, immediately remove it from the heat and strain the oil into a small dish. You’ll need it shortly.

Once your sauce is cooked to the consistency you like, stir in the reserved olive oil and adjust seasonings to taste.   Stir in the butter, if using, and serve immediately with slivered basil for garnish.  

Note: when I made this I used almost 10 pounds of tomatoes as I wanted plenty to be able to freeze which will make the proportions look much larger than what the recipe calls for.

Plenty of delicious sauce for the fall and winter!
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