Sunday, October 23, 2011

Homemade Pasta Sauce from Scratch aka How to Use Up a Large Amount of Fresh Tomatoes

Shown here over Trader Joe's Gnocchi.  Manja!

Baking is a science, where cooking is an art.  Tomato sauce, especially, can be a free-form thing.  A few months ago, I traveled to our Nor. Cal office.  A friend of mine (thank you, Eyvonne!) was having a tomato overload on her property, so she kindly brought me a large bag full of huge, beautiful organic tomatoes.  The bag was dropped at the airport (tomatoes running everywhere) and dropped again by my husband.  Basically, we had to wash and use these immediately or they were not going to last.

The recipe below is a variation of one I found on allrecipes.com  You can take this as a basis, and tweak the herbs, add a Marsala wine instead of white, add roasted garlic instead of fresh, etc.  You get it.  Experiment a little and have fun!  

I learned later, that you are supposed to quickly blanch the tomatoes and pull off the skin in order for the recipe to cook down more quickly; if you fore go this step it takes twice as long for your sauce to properly cook down.  The recipe below is super easy in prep, but takes longer in cooking time - you just throw the whole tomatoes in a pot with basil, onion, garlic, olive oil and some wine and let'em simmer for almost 3 hours.  The result is a sauce thicker than a standard marinara with the added nutritional benefits of keeping the skin and seeds.  It has a very fresh taste and pairs nicely over pasta, ravioli or - my favorite - gnocchi!

Ingredients:
8 pounds tomatoes (the recipe says to dice and seed them, but I threw them in whole and crushed them with a wooden spoon while they cooked down)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 large onion, minced
3-4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
dash of Garlic powder
dash of Thyme
salt and pepper to taste


Directions:
In a large saucepan, cook tomatoes and basil over medium-low heat, until tomatoes are soft.



Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent.


Add onion mixture to tomato mixture and add white wine, garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper.  Let simmer on low heat until thick (if you chopped your tomatoes, this should take approx. 2 hours, for whole tomatoes, more like 3.)



When sauce is close to ready, prepare your Gnocchi or pasta according to the directions on the box.





Toss, serve and dig in!





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