So You've Grown Some Tomatoes, Now What?
I'm sorry to inform you- I'm that person you hate. Yes, that person. I don't like tomatoes. By themselves, I think they're gross. I don't know why, and I wish I wasn't this way, but unfortunately I am. This is life for me. Hugh, however, will eat tomatoes like an apple- yeah, he's one of those people. But fortunately for me (and us both), I greatly enjoy everything tomatoes become. They are truly able to rise above and transform into gorgeous creations: pasta sauce, pizza sauce, salsa, bruschetta, ketchup- the list goes on. Thank you, tomatoes. Bless you. But this entry isn't about my taste preferences. It's about something you can do to make all of your hard work in the garden last even longer.
Who doesn't love a pasta sauce? If you don't, please exit stage left. For the rest of you sane and rational beings, I present you with an additional question: who doesn't love a pasta sauce made with tomatoes from your own garden? Even the haters have to appreciate that.
We've reached that point in the growing season where we have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. For the second year in a row, we've reached this pivotal point with almost no warning. It seems like one day there are flowers, another day there are a few green little bebe tomatoes, and then suddenly, we're bombarded with red and ripened fruits left and right from every plant. Since we're not ones to waste food, especially produce that we've spent time and money growing ourselves, the sight of so many tomatoes can be slightly anxiety-inducing. That is, until we figured out we have so many more options than solely using our tomatoes in salads. Being that our cherry tomatoes in particular are overachievers, the search for an extended "use-by" date began. Hugh found this roasted cherry tomato sauce recipe from Fork Knife Swoon, and we decided to give it a try ourselves.
2-3 pounds of cherry tomatoes (we didn't weigh ours, but had enough to fill a large bowl)
2 yellow onions
2 table spoons minced garlic
Handful of basil
Instructions (with pictures!):
Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. While she gets going, get rid of any remaining stems or leaves on your tomatoes, and give the lil guys a quick bath. They don't have to be completely blemish free- they're getting roasted and blended anyway, so nobody's going to notice a little imperfection or two.
Step 2: Lightly coat your red bebes in some olive oil. You want them to be nice and lathered, ready to brown in their little sauna. You'll probably have enough to fill two large trays.
Step 3: Roast the tomatoes. This is where you'll have to pay attention a little bit. The instructions on Fork Knife Swoon say to roast for 30 minutes. The variety we're currently growing are "large red cherry tomatoes" (I mean, the description says it all). Given that, we had to roast ours for closer to 45 minutes.
Step 4: While the tomatoes are bronzing and browning in their private tanning bed, sauté your yellow onion and garlic until they've also got some color and softened up.
Step 5: Combine your roasted tomatoes and juices into the stock pot with your now-browned yellow onions and minced garlic. Add in your seasonings. Add in your basil (bonus points if it also comes from your garden). Most importantly, take a cute picture. You know you want to. Your Instagram story is beckoning for clout. We're all clout-chasers, here.
Step 6: Simmer on low for 25 minutes minimum. Stir occasionally, and add in your thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. This is where you become the expert in taste, so prepare it as you please. Once the flavor is sitting delightfully between a Trader Joe's product and your Italian grandmother's ancient and recipe-less pasta sauce, you're ready to blend.
Blend until you've reached your preferred texture (smooth and creamy is the correct answer here, though). Then you're done and ready to can! Congratulations, you're a champion. A chef like no other, really. After an additional taste test and re-seasoning if necessary, you're ready to can in a few adorable mason jars and dominate your local farmers' market- or stock up for the garden-less winter, or give to your neighbors, the options here are truly endless. Look how pretty she is!
And that's it. Thank you to everyone that's made it this far! We hope you enjoyed our first foray into home cooking. We'll soon have a follow-up entry on how to can and preserve your sauce for the winter ahead.