In early spring, after the threat of frost passes, I tuck small, young tomato plants into beds of organic, fertile soil. But the promise of bright red fruit is squelched somewhere in the course of summer. I pluck off the green balls and decorate my window sills with them. But not this year!
Unlike so many previous cool and rainy summers here in Portland, this summer consisted of the perfect combo of heat and moisture that helped create an amazing crop of beautiful red gems.
After roasting, adding to salads, slipping into sandwiches, we still have a tomato abundance. Time to sauce ‘em.
My search for the perfect tomato sauce recipe led to many methods, ingredients, and a whole lot of opinions and inconsistencies. Gathering from a few tried and true practices, I decided to do some further experimenting on my own. I recalled a recipe that included wine and butter, so I knew those were two essential ingredients. You can’t go wrong with wine and butter, right?
Many recipes use a plethora of fresh ingredients, and this was a plus for me, so I gathered a few favorites. This sauce turned out more orange than red. I thought this was from the carrots, but I’m pretty sure the culprit is the immersion blender. The blender adds air, which apparently alters the color. The color did not change the flavor, but if you want your sauce to be red, leave it a bit chunky, or mash it instead of blending.
To make your life easier, I highly suggest using a food mill for this.
Here’s the recipe and method I used:
FRESH CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE
Yield: About 8 cups
24 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 stocks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup white wine (American Sauvignon Blanc is a good one for cooking)
6-8 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Wash tomatoes and slice an X onto the top of each one (this will help the skins come off easily). Place tomatoes into a large pot and add enough water just to cover them. Cook covered for about 20 minutes, or until the tomato skins begin to peel away from the flesh.
Pour tomatoes (and all their delicious juices) into a food mill over a large bowl. In batches, mill the mix until you have a puree of tomatoey goodness.
In another large pan (a Dutch oven is a good choice), melt butter, add chopped onion, celery, carrots and garlic and cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat. Add white wine and chopped basil leaves and cook for 5 minutes more.
Add tomatoes that have been churned through the food mill to the veggie mixture, and simmer on low until the sauce has thickened, about 30-45 minutes. At this point, you can leave it chunky, or use an immersion blender, standing blender, or food processor to puree the sauce into a smooth, creamy consistency.
I poured about half of the sauce into sealed containers and placed them into the freezer. I then made spaghetti and meatballs with the other half, since that’s about the only way I can get my family to eat tomato sauce.