My in-laws came for a visit the last week in September and brought with them EIGHTEEN enormous vine ripened, home grown tomatoes. We already had a gallon bag from my mom in the fridge and my neighbor asked me to take pity on her and pick hers as well. For a person not terribly fond of tomatoes, all this abundance was a problem. One thing everyone eats around here is spaghetti with red sauce – problem solved! I got out the onions, picked a few handfuls of herbs and got out the stock pot. It was time to make tomato sauce 🙂
It’s really simple and you can use canned/stewed tomatoes as well, but here are the steps for a perfect-every-time home made spaghetti/pizza sauce:
For a sauce with about 20 tomatoes, you should peel and rough chop two medium yellow onion. But I’ll be honest, I had three Walla Walla’s from my mom (more mild and sweet than yellows) so I used them. If you have red or anything else, it will be fine. Throw in about 6 peeled garlic cloves. I cut them in half, but you can crop, press or leave whole. If you have any, add 1-2 stalks of celery as well, chopped as small as you can get them. The flavor is great, but it isn’t a terrific texture so I keep them mini so the strings will really break down. Saute them in a large frying pan with a generous amount of olive oil on low/medium heat until they are translucent and maybe a little browned on the edges.
While the onions are browning, bring a medium saucepan full of water up to a rolling boil. Make sure there are at least 3 inches of water in the pan. Wash your tomatoes and use a paring knife to cut out that tough stem core out of the top. Then cut a very shallow “X” in the bottom of the tomato. Some of mine had slug holes or cracks so I cut them out at that point as well.
Using a slotted spoon, dip the tomatoes 1 or 2 at a time into the boiling water. Wait TEN seconds and lift them out again. I lay a kitchen towel out on the counter and just set them on it once they come out of the water.
You can see from the photos, the boiling water bath causes the peels to contract and peel back. After the tomatoes cool down a little, you will be able to peel them very easily.
Next, carefully chop them up. I make mine about a 1-inch chop. If you like your sauce very smooth, you may want to make the pieces smaller as well.
Optional: I had a few green bell peppers and one jalapeno in the fridge. Once my onions were done cooking, I heated up the frying pan a little more and thew them all in there to blister and char up a bit. It’s the cheater way to roast them.
Add the onions, tomatoes and anything else you want to put in there into a large non-stick sauce pan. I also add a couple bay leaves, a handful of fresh oregano, about 1 cup chopped basil leaves, 1 generous pinch of salt and 1/3 cup of water (to keep it from burning on the bottom).
Optional: shredded other veg. My kids aren’t so keen on veggies. They will eat tomato sauce on noodles so I decided to also throw in a very large, shredded zucchini and see if I could sneak it past them. It kind of falls apart in the long simmer so you don’t even know it’s there in the end. I think you could also do this with carrots.
Simmer on low to medium low for about an hour. It will look a little weird (see below), but a few seconds with an immersion blender and it will look amazing.
Mine is usually too runny for my taste after the one hour of cook time. So once I’ve blended it up, I let it simmer for another 2-3 hours. Once you have cooked off some of that liquid and concentrated those flavors, you’ll be ready to portion and freeze.