Brooks (brooksmoses) wrote,

Tomato sauce! From scratch!

I finally made it out to the farmers' market this morning (with tiger_spot), after about a month of not going -- between having a rather busy few weeks and the farmshare keeping us supplied with lots of things, it was easy to miss.

Anyhow, the place that has a 65-cents-a-pound sort-out bins had tomatoes in their sort-outs, as they sometimes do, and so I got what ended up being almost ten pounds of them, along with six or eight peppers. I am deeply pleased with the existence of this sort-out bin. These are the tomatoes that are just a bit over-ripe, and wrinkled or soft in spots -- overripe tomatoes, how horrid. And, aside from that, they're really tasty farmers-market tomatoes. They're perfect for cooking, even if the price weren't incentive enough. And the peppers in the sort-out bin are an outright steal. Most of them are just slightly wrinkly in spots, if that (these people must have astoundingly high standards for their peppers); and they hardly weigh anything.

We brought them home, and (following something that is a combination of a suggestion last year from the farmer who sold them, and things kightp has posted) I washed them, sliced them in half, and placed them cut-face-up in roasting pans -- actually, I used the bottom half of our broiler pans, which are large and deep and worked quite well. And tiger_spot did the same with the peppers, also de-seeding them. Then they went into the oven at 275, which I later upped to 300. The peppers seemed reasonably done after 45 minutes, and then the tomatoes stayed in another couple of hours -- a lot of the water cooked out of them so the pan had a half-cm of water in it about halfway through the cooking, and then I took them out when that had all evaporated out. And then I put the peppers, turned to be skin-side up, under the broiler for 3 minutes until they'd blackened in spots.

The next step was taking them over to tiger_spot, chinders, and andres_s_p_b's house, where I ran them all through the blender until well-pureed and put the result in a pot to simmer. I chopped up a couple of large onions finely, and put some olive oil and fennel seeds and red pepper flakes in a pan, and when the fennel seeds were toasty, cooked the onions until soft and translucent, and added that to the sauce along with a generous half-cup or so of cheap burgundy, and (a bit later) a couple of tablespoons of dried oregano. That simmered for probably another 45 minutes or so, and then sat for a bit as dinner ended up being replanned for later than we'd originally intended. And then tiger_spot added pepper and some salt, and it was done.

It was really very tasty indeed, and after serving five people with it, we had about a quart and a quarter left over. I think I've finally got my sauce-from-scratch recipe to a point where I'm reliably pleased with it; a fair part of the trick seems to be cooking the tomatoes in the oven ahead of time, to pull out about half of the water, so that the sauce doesn't end up watery. And, of course, roasting makes everything taste better. I think next time, I'll put the onions in with the peppers to roast, too, rather than cooking them later.

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