The thing I’ll miss most about summer? Tomatoes! They never taste as sweet, juicy, and earthy as they do in August and September. Our first year in the house we grew our own tomatoes which kinda ended in a disaster because it was the year of the monsoon. This year I opted for our local farmer’s market which turned out to be way better. I was able to find a larger selection and I was cooking with tomatoes a lot earlier in the summer then when I grew them.
A few of our favorites we made this summer. Above a homemade pizza crust (I used Jim Lahey’s recipe) with homemade pesto and roasted heirloom tomatoes on top. I roasted the tomatoes in the oven with olive oil before adding to the pizza and baking. Freakin’ deliciousness. Beautiful for a get together with friends or a special weekend lunch. Heats up great the next day too!
I made three or four batches of homemade tomato sauce. I tried it chunky and smooth. For me the best technique was to first squeeze the tomatoes through a sieve catching all the seeds and then cooking down the skins with the tomatoes. Once the sauce was done I milled the sauce getting out all the chunks. I realize I could have just mill it once and saved myself a step. Usually I began each sauce thinking I wanted it to be chunky and then in the last fifteen I would switch to wanting it smooth. Neurotic yes.
We can still find tomatoes at our farmer’s market and I made one last batch of sauce yesterday afternoon. Every time Greg takes his first bite he freaks out with excitement. But how could you not? Homemade tomato sauce ranks right up there with swimming in the ocean on the first hot day of summer.
Katy’s version of homemade tomato sauce
1/2 cup vidala onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 carrot grated
1 celery chopped
about 8-10 lbs of tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
A bunch of fresh basil
First, I wash and chop the tomatoes in half. I then push each of the tomatoes through a wire sieve. I try to grab as many of the seeds I can but I spend a little time smooshing it though so I can get all the juice into bowl. Again, probably not necessary if you plan to mill the sauce afterwords. I throw all the ingredients into my big dutch oven (except for the basil) with some olive oil, turn the burner to low and cook it down for about 2-3 hours. The range is based on what kind of tomatoes you use. Plums have less water but the tomatoes I used above took a little longer because of their high water content. Once the sauce has cooked down I used a mill to get all the skins out. Add about a cup of fresh chopped basil if you like and serve.
Of course there are a million variations of this basic sauce recipe. Some people don’t add the carrot or celery. It all depends on what you like. Everyone has different tweaks and methods. This is just the way I made it based on advice from friends and grandmas.