This is a post from my home blog that I did last year. Since it is getting close to tomato canning time, I thought that I would re-post the pasta sauce how-to’s here.
At my house we get really serious about our pasta sauces. Over the past year our quest for the ultimate tomato-based pasta sauce lead us to grow a large population of a specific variety of tomato, the margherita. It is a roma style hybrid tomato which produces abundant yields of long, slender tomatoes. Fresh off the vine, they taste rather ordinary, but when roasted they become so delicious we weep! (As a side note—no, I don’t believe that I am going to become a mutant because I eat hybrid varieties of vegetables—sheesh!)
Each year I plant a few of my favorite varieties of tomatoes and a few new varieties. Last year, 2008, the margheritas were an experiment. I haven’t traditionally been able to grow Roma-style tomatoes very well; it has been a mystery as to why they make such a poor showing in my garden. As I was perusing one of my favorite seed catalogues from Park Seed, their description of margherita tomatoes made me want to give this variety a try. What a find! The tomatoes grew 5-6 inches long, as promised, and in abundance. As also promised, when the tomatoes were roasted the flavor was unbeatable.
Our family uses this base as a launching pad for the sauces that we use on pizza, spaghetti or other pastas, and also eggplant parmesan.
To see my niece in-law’s success story with making and canning this sauce, visit her blog post here.
This is how my daughter, Tricia, and I prepare the base for our sauce:
- Cut the tomatoes lengthwise and spread them out on a foil-lined baking sheet
- Drizzle olive oil over them, then sprinkle with salt and pepper (we use sea salt and a freshly ground mixed pepper—white, black, green, red)
- Sprinkle with peeled, smashed, fresh garlic cloves
- Scatter whole, fresh basil leaves over everything
- Roast in a 450° F. oven until the tomatoes are caramelized
- While the tomatoes are caramelizing, chop 1 medium or large onion and cook it in olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Get the onion nice and caramelized, too, but not burned—just a lovely golden brown. Yum!
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let them cool enough to process in a blender. Toss everything into the blender and process until smooth (don’t forget to add the onions).
- You can stop at this point, choose your favorite lickin’ spoon and start eating—warning: don’t be alarmed if your eyes start rolling backwards and leaking from the sheer joy of the incredible flavor dancing across your taste-buds
- Or you can get on with making your favorite pasta sauce. We bottle this sauce in quart or pint glass jars (in a pressure canner) for use throughout the year.
A few pics of the process:
At a later time I will post our pizza, spaghetti, and eggplant parmesan recipes which use this sauce. I’ll also tell you how to make a tomato sauce from store-bought canned tomatoes. One warning up front, to make a really good tomato sauce, this is one place where the quality of the store-bought canned tomatoes can make a real difference in the quality of the sauce. BUT, that is for posts in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned.