Saturday, August 28, 2010
Three Sauces; One Week
At long last the height of the tomato season is here. Other than the occasional Roma tomato needed for cooking, the only fresh tomatoes that I buy are from the farmers market. The ones that are grown for travel are, to me, not worth eating. Life is too short to eat waxy tomatoes!
Our local farmers have figured out how to extend the tomato season. I like to think that it is just for me, but perhaps others feel as strongly as I do about a good tomato. In early June, greenhouse tomatoes are available. As the first frost approaches, the farmers pick the tomatoes with potential and store them in their barns until they are ripe enough for market. Last year – a notoriously cool summer – the green house tomatoes were actually the best all year.
The weeks between mid-August and late September are my busiest time of year. My goal is to have preserved enough food so that at least three dinners per week in the winter feature the local foods that I preserve. Dinner is our largest meal; it usually contributes to lunch the next day.
The only food that I preserve that could be the entire meal, are stuffed peppers and the contents for my Michigan Chili. Otherwise I make sauces or freeze fruits and vegetables. But, the sauces – oh so wonderful!
Over the past week, I have made three sauces.
Marinara Sauce – I hadn’t made a home-made spaghetti sauce in around 20 years. And when I did, it was a single batch. I found a recipe in our local version of the newsprint magazine Natural Awakenings. Along with tomatoes, the recipe has olive oil, garlic, and basil. I substituted fresh basil growing in my herb garden for the dried basil noted in the recipe. I canned this one. I haven’t tasted it yet, but the recipe seemed good before canning.
Roasted Tomato Sauce – This recipe came from various books and conversations. It is a simple compilation of my experiences over the past few years. I make it annually. Here is what I do. Wash and cut a few pounds of meaty tomatoes in large chunks. Place them in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan. Cut a local head of garlic into chunks and toss them in. Also, add shallots or onions or both – whatever you are able to get your hands on. Then, sprinkle in a few handfuls of fresh herbs. I used rosemary, basil (lots!), thyme, and oregano this year. Stir to combine. Then, pour in a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I add enough so that it starts peaking between the tomatoes. This has a more concentrated tomato flavor. But, if you want a sauce that is mostly oil, you can just keep going. Then, I bake this in the oven at 300 degrees for at least a couple of hours until the vegetables are very cooked and becoming concentrated. I pour this into glass jars and freeze it. It is delicious over whole wheat pasta.
Tomatillo Sauce – A savory enchilada sauce from the book, This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Jane Dye Gussow. I use it for enchiladas, but it is also great over eggs and fried potatoes. It is an important component to Huevos Rancheros. To complement this sauce, I roast and freeze Anaheim peppers. I toss the peppers and sauce with pasta for a simple, but zesty meal. I froze this one also.
Contents of tomatilla sauce.