A couple of days ago, an entire case of extremely ripe, organic heirloom tomatoes made its way into my life. While the sheer mass of plump, juicy redness contained within that cardboard box was slightly daunting, I thought (and still do think) that I had received a blessing from the tomato gods. I'm unsure of the exact poundage involved here, but at $4 - $5 per 16 oz. at the farmer's market, I figure those beauties are worth at least 100 bucks. What a score!
As soon as I realized that I was indeed the proud owner of these delightful fruits, my mind was cranking out ideas as to what I'd actually do with them all once I got them into the inadequate space that passes for my kitchen (more like a tiled closet with appliances). So what can be done with a large quantity of tomatoes that only have about one more day of life left before converting completely to seedy water held inside a red-skinned pouch? Well, tomato soup was my first thought. I mean, really, the poor things were practically soup already. Then I thought about the things that I make the most of with a tomato base. Pasta sauce, enchilada sauce, chili and other soups, like minestrone, are my most common tomato endeavors. Pasta sauce sounded like a good place to begin, so I broke out the eight quart pot and got to work.
This being my first foray out of the small-scale, I turned to my resourceful friend Google for aid in locating a recipe that would guide me along the path of large volume pasta sauce preparation. Unfortunately, a lot of folks think that "from scratch" should include opening up a can of tomato sauce, so it took me a minute to find what I was looking for. In the end I used this recipe as a general guideline, and since I used fewer tomatoes than it calls for, made some adjustments including:
- omitted the green pepper
- only 1/4 C. oil
- several T. each fresh oregano and thyme (what I had available)
- 1 1/2 entire heads of garlic (can't get enough as far as I'm concerned)
- several T. salt (to taste)
- 1/4 C. sugar (added a little at a time and tasted so as not to get it too sweet)
- 24 oz. tomato paste
- roughly 1 T. cayenne pepper
After simmering for a couple of hours, I allowed my sauce to cool and then portioned it into freezer bags which spent the night lying flat on a cookie sheet in my freezer to enhance stackability. Now I have delicious, homemade sauce at my disposal for all of my Italian creations! I'm stoked.