Rustic Tomato “Sauce”

August 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

Oh so many summer tomatoes…

Not that there really are any other kind.

Or at least any other kind that compare to the real thing. Buy tomatoes in the winter & I’m sure you’ll be sorely disappointed by the deceptive look-a-like that tastes like nothing more than bad water & mealy flesh. It’s curious how we still eat these winter “tomatoes” even though they are so terrible. I wonder, could it be an emotional attachment, a comfort thing? Our culture praises self discipline, yet can’t even wait for tomato season to roll around to enjoy them. To me that’s just the thing; if you are eating a winter tomato, there is a very slim chance that you are actually enjoying it. In which case, what is the point?

If you think the point of eating tomatoes in the winter is to get your daily dose of lycopene, don’t be fooled.  Lycopene is a micro-nutrient that gives tomatoes their brilliant color. It is an important anti-oxidant that has been shown to rid the body of cancerous cells, fight heart disease & lower levels of undesirable cholesterol. However, according to Functional foods: biochemical & processing aspects, by G. Mazza, studies have shown that lycopene concentrations are the highest in mature, vine-ripend, sun grown tomatoes during the summer (June through August specifically) months & much lower during the winter. Tomatoes that are available in the winter are seldom vine-ripened & are usually genetically modified to survive cross-country shipping. If you don’t think  you can go a whole winter without tomatoes, buy them now & can them. In fact, this sauce can be made in bulk, canned & eaten as a treat during the winter.

I can’t help but smile when I pick the real thing; sweet & acidic, tomatoes come in all different shapes & sizes. Honeyed sun-golds are highlighter orange & need to be picked before they anxiously crack open on the vine, deep green & ruby red, black prince tomatoes are bold & savory, while scarlet brandy-wine tomatoes are misshapen rouged orbs of luscious flesh. Regardless of which types you use, the blistered tomatoes in this recipe are just as esthetically pleasing as they are tasty. This recipe requires minimum preparation.  The outcome, a thick savory sauce, is great to top bruschetta, to toss with pasta, or to can & save for the tomato-less days of winter. Recently I used it as a sauce with lamb confit &  homemade gnocchi (recipe will follow).

Rustic Tomato “Sauce”

12-14* cups of tomatoes, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 6 garlic cloves, whole & peeled,  dried oregano, sea salt

  *this recipe can easily be halved and/or doubled. I used 12 cups of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and 2 cups of Amish Paste tomatoes, but any variety will work.

Preheat oven on roast to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, chop tomatoes to uniform size. If you are using all cherry tomatoes, keep them whole. Add olive oil, garlic, a healthy dose of sea salt & about a tablespoon of oregano. Toss & roast for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbling & slightly blistered.

To Can

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Put 1 Tbsp of bottled* lemon juice at the bottom of sterilized mason jars. Fill the jars with sauce, leaving a 1/2 inch of space at the rim of the jar.  Wipe the mouth of the jar & secure the two-piece lid.  Completely submerge the jar in the water & let it boil for 35-45 minutes until the jar has sealed. Allow the jar to cool, then store. If the jar does not seal, it needs to be refrigerated until use.

* bottled lemon juice has a consistent acidity & is much safer to use than fresh lemon juice.  Instead of lemon juice, 1/4 of a tsp of citric acid can be used as well.

Enjoy.

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