End of the Season Tomato Sauce
By Diane Sheya
It’s been very cold at night lately and my tomato plants still have lots of green tomatoes left. I began picking the tomatoes that had a bit of color on them, put them on a sheet pan and stored them in my basement where it’s dark and cooler for about a week. Each day I checked on them-they were getting riper and riper until almost every one had ripened to a luscious shade of dark red and purple-red.
I’ve already made a year’s supply of marinara and 14 pints of salsa-what should I do with all these tomatoes now? One of my favorite cookbook authors Sally Schneider has a wonderful cookbook called “The Improvisational Cook”. I love this cookbook because it not only gives you recipes she makes you think about what else you can create with basic ingredients. Her chapter on Slow-Roasted Tomatoes is packed with so many ideas.
As she describes in her cookbook “Slow-roasted tomatoes have become ubiquitous of late because they are so easy to make and yield such fabulous results: creamy and melting, with a concentrated, slightly caramelized tomato flavor”.
I preheated my oven to 325 degrees F, sliced the smaller tomatoes in half lengthwise through the stem and the larger ones quartered through the stem. I placed them on a baking sheet, drizzled a bit of olive oil on them, tossed them by hand to make sure they were well coated, sprinkled them with sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. In the oven they went for about 3 hours.
As I checked on them, some of the smaller tomatoes were ready to be taken out-the liquid had evaporated and they had begun to brown. The smell was incredible.
I started to put the baking pans into the sink and noticed there was a lot of caramelization left on the three pans. Not wanting to throw that flavor away, I put the pan on the stove and heated it up again. Adding a bit of red wine to deglaze the pan and then reduced the wine to concentrate that flavor. I added it into the bowl of tomato sauce and stirred it in. This increased the already amazing flavor, taking the flavor to another level. Rich essence of tomato!
I placed my tomato sauce in containers, labeled and dated them and put them in the freezer. I can’t wait to use it next time I have need of a base for a homemade pizza, lasagne or adding it to a soup, stew, braise or even a sandwich.
Next time, I think I’ll add some garlic as those tomatoes are roasting and maybe some herbs or spices!