February 9th, 2009


Last of the winter tomatoes

I got up in time to go to the Mountain View farmers' market this morning, after having missed it for all of last month. At the far end of the market, there's a farm with a corner spot, and one of the reasons I always visit them is their sort-out bin -- whatever they've got that's second-best, 65 cents a pound. They tend to be very picky about their peppers; the sort-out bin usually has plenty of perfectly good ones. Today, the bins had tomatoes -- ripe, too ripe to survive transit entirely intact. Or mostly ones that were just unlucky, or had split a bit at the top.

As I was picking over the apples in the adjacent bin, I listened to the farmer telling a woman how he made spaghetti sauce from them, roasting them in the oven for a few hours until they'd reduced down to about half before putting them in a blender. Or, when he was feeling lazy, just roasting them an hour or two on low heat, and turning the oven off and leaving them overnight to keep roasting as the oven cooled. I was reminded of kightp's posts about roasting vegetables at the end of last summer, and how tasty those were. And so I got a bag with about three pounds of tomatoes in it (along with a couple of small red peppers), and brought them home, and put them in the oven to roast. I used sort of a modification of the idea -- roasting them on higher heat for a half-hour before I headed over to tiger_spot's house to work, and then turning the oven off and leaving them while I was gone, and then suzanne turned the oven back on for a bit when she got home. Roasting vegetables is a pretty flexible process.

Then, I blended them into sauce, along with some bits of rosemary from the bush outside, and put them in a saucepan with a bit of salt, pepper, oregano, savory, thyme, and cayenne pepper, and a good splash of red wine, and simmered them for a while. Meanwhile, I took a couple of scallions (left over from a quite interesting cranberry sauce a while ago) and half of a carrot from the market -- one of the farms had some stubby startlingly-fat carrots, about two inches in diameter and five long -- and diced them reasonably finely and sauteed them, simmered them in a splash of water with a lid on the pan until the carrots were mushy, and added them to the pot. Finally, I chopped up some Italian sausages from the freezer and cooked those in the now-empty pan until they started to brown, added those, and simmered the sauce for another ten minutes while I cooked some pasta to put it over.

It was very tasty indeed. Perhaps not a lot more so than the usual canned sauce, but good nonetheless. I think perhaps the tomatoes could have used a bit more roasting to reduce them down and concentrate further first.... And the farmer said that he should have one more week of tomatoes left, so I think I'll try this again next week.